Nev signs but Rafael’s time has come

April 30, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 11 comments

Gary Neville, Manchester United’s 35-year-old club captain, has signed a one year contract extension that will keep the defender at Old Trafford until 2011. The extension is just reward for Neville, who has forced his way back into the United side after more than 18 months on the sidelines. The right-back has appeared 597 times for United.

“We’ve agreed a contract with Gary Neville for another year,” Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Friday morning.

“We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now. We’re delighted with that. We think he deserves it because his contribution to the club has been fantastic.

“As I’ve said time and again about certain players, they make a career out of their will and determination to do it. Gary is one of those players.”

Neville is now fifth on Manchester United’s all-time appearances list behind only Ryan Giggs, Bobby Charlton, Paul Scholes and Bill Foukes. The new deal will take the Bury-born player past 600 appearances for the club. It’s a remarkable achievement given the long-term nature of the player’s injuries in recent seasons.

“The amazing thing he has achieved is coming back from a year-and-a-half out in his thirties,” added Ferguson.

“To get to the level he is playing at today is astonishing. The man is doing it because he wants to do it, he has the determination and drive within himself not to give in on his career.

“He’s getting the rewards for that because his performances levels have been outstanding at an important time for the club.”

Even so many supporters will point to Neville’s ineffective outings against Bayern Munich in Germany and Chelsea at Old Trafford recently, when Florent Malouda and Franck RibĂ©ry exposed the veteran’s relative lack of mobility.

Neville, first choice at right-back since the turn of the year, cannot continue indefinitely though. Indeed, the new deal should offer teenager Rafael da Silva an opportunity to learn from a player who has surpassed the bounds of his naturally ability.

That the Brazilian’s talent exceeds that of 85-time capped Neville is a valid argument, even if Rafael’s maturity is years behind Neville’s at a similar age. The Bury-born defender’s fundamental understanding of his position thrust the right-back into the United and England team at 18. Rafael, by contrast, still has a lot to learn.

Neville’s new deal comes with a warning though. Should inconsistent performance levels continue, it is Rafael who will take the right-back mantle sooner, rather than later.

“I think experience could also be misinterpreted in the sense of the ability to play in games,” warned Ferguson.

“You could keep a player with great experience and not play him. I don’t think Gary would enjoy that, I don’t think Scholes, Giggs or van der Sar would either. They want to play, nobody more than Gary.”

Neville has appeared 27 times in all competitions for United this season, with Rafael chosen on 16 occasions, Wes Brown 29 times and John O’Shea 18.

Early season form and fitness will decide which of these players will begin 2010/11 in the red shirt.

Neville’s competitive nature ensures he wants the role. Rafael’s development dictates that the Brazilian needs more games next season.

Neville’s honours
Premier League: (7) 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2008-09
FA Cup: (3) 1996, 1999, 2004
League Cup: (2) 2006, 2010
FA Community Shields: (3) 1996, 1997, 2008
Champions League: (2) 1999, 2008
Intercontinental Cup: (1) 1999
FIFA Club World Cup: (1) 2008


aj - April 30, 2010 Reply

neville signing is wonderful news.

the old guard are legends and lnog may they continue.

i have watched them from the beginning and i hope to watch them for a few years yet.

sir aelx does it again, what a manager to keep these guys on and going strong, alex is the greatest of all time.

elvido - April 30, 2010 Reply

Good news!! Keep the youngsters in check, inculcate the United way of life. These players are important on and off the pitch for us!!

Mark - April 30, 2010 Reply

Neville is a liability these days. Dennis Irwin was twice the player Gary ever was and when his time came, he left the club with dignity and legacy intact.

A loyal servant sure, but Bellamy just ran past him on several occasions in the derby and Nev just gave up the chase. Ribery made a mockery of the once great player in Munich. Rafael in the return leg was harshly sent off but put in a better performance than Gary has in a long time prior to that and I shudder to think of what would have happened to us had Gary played in Milan.

I love Sir Alex, but he’s grown too attatched to these senior lads and Gary in particular has always been under his wing. Bosnich revealed just what Gary was like in the dressing room in his days there. No matter how bad Gary played, it was always someone elses fault.

CES Chief - April 30, 2010 Reply

Dear all,

Financially speaking this is good news for Mr Glazer and Manchester United. With a right back of Gary Nevilles experience at the club, Rafael Da Silva can be sold to Real Madrid.This will allow Mr Glazer to ease some of the PIK debt on behalf of Manchester United.

Yours sincerely,

CES Chief

Maurice - April 30, 2010 Reply

Oh Lord. Sell Rafael and keep Neville? This proves you either missed all of Neville’s games during the last seasons or just dont want Utd to compete with anybody proper anymore. Really think we’re gonna bomb forward with a 35 year old, crap crossing and slow moving defender. We need 4 to five star players to even try and rule England, let alone Europe. Utd hand out contracts to pensioners, while other (more succesful)teams like Bayern, Inter and Barca INVEST in quality. They want to progress, so they dont give their 3 oldest players news contract while young talents pass them by (to City, Madrid, Arsenal). This club, and even the fans, are getting more pathetic. At this point we’re happy Neville is staying, because we can’t even get Gareth Bale or Rodwell, because SAF is being an idiot again. We’ll win the League soon. Yeah right.

Ed - April 30, 2010 Reply

I dont think its Fergie that’s causing United to not invest. It’s £700m of Glazer debt.

Hasan - April 30, 2010 Reply

Dear Maurice.. You miss the point here, completely. This isn’t Madrid, its Manchester United we’re talking about. We don’t treat players like commodities, specially not long serving ones like Neville. As the manager himself said Neville has been rewarded for his dedication to the side. Or would you have us treat him like Madrid did to Helguera, and throw our captain out because he isn’t the player he once was?!? Giving him another year doesn’t mean Rafael will be sold to the facist (i’m sure even you know that), nor does it mean Rafael will be left out of the side. The only thing keeping Rafael out of the side is his immaturity, and not Neville.
Barring Barca, the teams you’ve mentioned have been anonymous at the European stage for years. We on the other hand have been a top team all along so what are you talking about buddy.. Our squad needs investment, so does every other, and the manager will see to it too. But we can’t pay our the odds like a few of them, so we must learn to live with it. Madrid spent all the money in the world, got everyone they could and look what they got, football isn’t that simple so the manager (idiot???!!!!!!?) do his job.. And do yourself a favor, stay shut now.

Ed - May 1, 2010 Reply

Think Maurice is being taken in by our resident WUM. In any case Fergie will go with the best option for United and Neville still has something to offer. If Rafael grows up at all in the next year he’ll be a phenomenal player.

Roonber - April 30, 2010 Reply


I absolutely agree with you! From the first letter, until the last one!!!!!

Maurice, you don’t understand football, and you do not have any respect, so please…

Bill - April 30, 2010 Reply

Good move, especially with United’s debt problems and Rafael’s need for an experienced mentor to learn off. Gary’s recent performances have earnt him this contract.

Tony Montana - May 1, 2010 Reply

He has probably signed a years contract extension worth a few million. But i really don’t understand why? He is not the same player anymore and its about time that he kept his legacy and retired. Give me or any other youngster that few million and i gaurantee United would have a long term right-back sorted.

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