Tag Gary Neville

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Review: “Red” by Gary Neville

October 4, 2011 Tags: , , Reviews 11 comments

There are moments in “Red”, Gary Neville’s autobiography, when you are reminded what an absolutely extraordinary career he, his brother and – as he never fails to refer to them – “Butty, Becks, Giggsy and Scholesey” had together. In the second batch of photographs included there is an image, captured in the dressing room before Neville’s testimonial, of the six of them with Sir Alex Ferguson, and I am ever so slightly ashamed to admit that seeing it again made me  well up. Six pals who have achieved extraordinary things, many of them together.

That this image had such a profound affect on me is perhaps not a great reflection of the quality of the prose. It feels a bit hacky to compare Red’s functional, consistent and only rarely exceptional style to its author’s playing career, but I am going to do it anyway, because it is just so appropriate.

Gary tells his story in strict chronological order, cataloguing the highs and lows of a career spent living out a childhood dream. The title is not an accident, the song sung throughout his career is true – Gary Neville really is a Red.

Spending a few hours in his literary company is enjoyable enough, because for any United fan it means spending a few hours on a pleasing trip through the incredible successes of the past twenty years. Incidentally, if you are not a United fan and have somehow stumbled across this review, I’m not sure Red is for you…

There is not much in the way of new insight in this book – the United way means being hard working, never complacent, and not knowing when you’re beaten. Sir Alex shouts at players when they don’t play well and occasionally they shout back and that never ends well. Eric Cantona was good.

The few titbits of new information I won’t share here because they are a rare treat to discover yourself. Generally speaking, in spite of the lack of sparkling prose, the momentum of United’s triumphs are entertaining enough to keep the reader engaged.

The momentum is only broken by the chapters covering Nev’s England career. Much like actually watching England’s underachievement on the pitch for the last 20 years, reading about it is pretty dull. If I’d played 85 times for my country, I’d probably devote a fair chunk of my career memoirs to it, but there are few surprises in his recanting of his time with the national team. Venables was good, Hoddle was tactically astute but a terrible man-manager, Sven’s reign started promisingly but then the indiscipline around the squad got out of hand. There is a chapter for each England manager – this could have been the work of a single chapter, and I would have been satiated.

Red is a perfectly decent sporting autobiography, rather than an excellent one. Still, because of it, I have spent the last five days with a song stuck in my head. Altogether now…”Gary Neville is a red, is a red, is a red! Gary Neville is a red, he writes boo-ooks.”

“Red: My Autobiography” by Gary Neville is published by Bantam Press and available in hardcover now.

“Life With Sir Alex” by Will Tidey

My Life With Sir Alex - Will TideyTidey’s book, published in paperback by Bloomsbury, benefits and suffers from all chronicles of supporter experiences. Tidey’s prose draws readers into the action as if not solely recalling the experience but reliving it. The book is, after all, Tidey’s personal experiences of supporting the club since childhood.

These are emotions – the highs and lows of supporterdom – with which all Manchester United fans can identify. The preface to ‘My Life’ is a case in point, describing the explosion of passion and joy as Ole Gunnar-Solskjaer’s flicked winner lit the fires of joy at Camp Nou in 1999. It was the seminal moment of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in charge of United.

But Tidey’s work also is recollection of events over the course of 25 years of Ferguson’s tenure at Old Trafford, and in strict chronilogical order at that. There is much to enjoy in the many victories; plenty to rue in the defeats. Each has made Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford so memorable. Tidey’s work is also a remembrance of the minutiae, as well as the improbably glorious. There are moments that the reader will simply have forgotten, or placed in the deep recesses of memory at least. There is joy in that too.

And yet for all that there is nothing particularly revelatory here. Why should there be? Tidey’s work, almost a personal diary over a quarter of a century, was never intended to be. Passionate, witty and smart, Tidey neatly sums up the fans-eye view of Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford. For that, it is well worth the read.

“Life with Sir Alex” by Will Tidey is published by Bloomsbury and available in paperback now.

This article originally appeared in Rant Monthly Issue 3, October 2011.

Come in number two, your time is up

February 2, 2011 Tags: Reads 25 comments

Retirements, like London buses, come rarely at Old Trafford and then two happen in the space of a week. Following Edwin van der Sar into the football afterlife comes Gary Neville, who today announced his retirement from professional football with immediate effect. Precipitated perhaps by Sir Alex Ferguson’s likely decision to omit the 35-year-old defender from Manchester United’s Premier and Champions League squads, Neville retires today after more than 600 games for the club.

Declared the “greatest English right-back of his generation” by Ferguson, Neville’s determination and desire throughout a trophy-laden career overcame any technical limitations. After serving United for two decades Neville retires with eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and the Champions League in 1999 to his name.

But the defender’s career is more than the weight of games played or trophies accumulated. The Bury-born player is a leader of men, serving as club captain for five years and mentor to countless youngsters coming through the ranks. Neville has become a leading symbol of modern United.

“I have been a Manchester United fan all my life and fulfilled every dream I’ve ever had,” said Neville today.

“Obviously I am disappointed that my playing days are at an end, however it comes to us all, and it’s knowing when that time is and for me that time is now. I have played in the most incredible football teams, playing with some of the best players in the world as well as against them and I have been lucky to have been part of the team’s achievements and the club’s great success.

“There are so many people I want to thank and, of course, top of that list is Sir Alex. He has given me so many opportunities and countless support over the last 20 years – he is truly one of the greatest managers – and I have to thank him for that.

“Also, I’d like to thank all the coaches I have played under from youth level right through to now, who have guided me through my playing days. And finally, the fans, who have always shown me unbelievable support. They know how special they are to me and this club.”

Neville débuted for the club aged 18, coming through the ranks of the now famous ‘class of 1992,’ along with his brother Phil, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham. But it wasn’t until ’95 that the older Neville took United’s right-back spot as his own, permanently replacing Paul Parker, and making his bow for the national side in the same season. Save for injury during the latter years of his career, Neville has rarely experienced anything but success at club level.

On the international front, Neville retires as the most capped full-back in his nation’s history and would surely have reached 100 caps bar for successive injuries over the past three years.

Yet, Neville will be remembered at United as much for his contribution off the pitch. Articulate and knowledgable about the game, Neville has rarely shirked a forthright opinion. And at the heart the 35-year-old is a fan, passionately celebrating United’s successes with those on the terraces. Sometimes to the ire of the game’s authorities.

Neville also gained a reputation for militancy, reportedly petitioning England’s players to strike following Rio Ferdinand’s eight-month ban for missing a mandatory dope test in 2003. Yet, Neville also retires having mentored dozens of youngsters, often acting as a de-facto agent for those players without representation.

“Gary was the best English right back of his generation. He is an example to any young professional; hard-working, loyal and intelligent,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

“As a United fan born and bred, his fantastic career at Old Trafford has cemented his place in the affection of the club’s supporters everywhere.

“His impact on the club in general has been huge; his presence in the dressing room and leadership qualities have been an asset to me as a manager.

“All the young players who have sought his advice on many matters, particularly on contract issues owe him a great debt. As a young boy he had the will and determination to succeed as a footballer and that character remained with him throughout his career. That’s the legacy he leaves every young player at Manchester United.”

There seems little doubt though that Neville will continue at the club in a coaching capacity despite talk of employment at Sky in recent weeks. Neville’s forthright analysis would no doubt be a welcome addition to any broadcaster, although it seems more likely Ferguson will retain the defender’s influence in-house.

United supporters will surely endorse that.

Career Statistics

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“I can’t disagree with his decision on Tévez. He was a good player for us, but if the financial demands are too big then that’s just the way it goes. Other good players have left this club in the past. It’s not the first time it’s happened.”

On Ferguson’s decision not to sign Carlos Tévez.

“Fans can say what they want, they can sing about you, so, if they want to give it out, then you should be able to take a bit back and everyone should just accept that’s just the game we are in.”

On mocking Liverpool supporters.

“I signed a contract at 16 which promised me £29.50 a week for two years, so I didn’t come into this for the money. I came here because I loved playing football and playing for United.”

On love his for the game.

“This is Danny. He’s 18 and he’s won the league.”

Introducing Danny Wellbeck to Michael Owen.

“What motivates me is to keep winning. To be part of teams that win things, the hour after the game, the night of celebration – it is the most incredible feeling you are ever going to get in your life. I have had it quite a few times but you never get enough of it.”

On winning

Patrick Vieira is 6 foot 4, and he starts having a go at Gary Neville, so I said ‘come on have a go at me,’ that’s it.

Roy Keane

“Leaving Manchester United in football terms is like falling off the end of a cliff.”

In Pictures

Class of '92

Gary Neville

Gary Neville

Gary Neville

Gary Neville

Gary Neville

The fight for right back

August 2, 2010 Tags: , , , Reads 44 comments

The 2006-2007 season saw Manchester United regain the Premier League title for the first time in four years. It also marked Gary Neville’s most recent appearance in the PFA team of the year. Near the end of the campaign Neville suffered a long-term injury, which kept him out of consistent first team action for nearly 18 months.

Since then United has yet to settle on a starting right back, with four men competing for the spot – a problem Sir Alex Ferguson is yet to resolve.

During the following Premier and Champions League double winning season Wes Brown took a hold of the position, with 52 appearances in all competitions. Throughout the season the Longsight-born defender was solid and even popped up with some major contributions going forward in the form of a goal against Liverpool and an assist in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

After getting off to a decent start in the 2008-2009 Brown was hit by another major injury, just as Neville returned from his layoff, allowing teenager Rafael Da Silva to make the first team. Despite the return of United’s captain and the Brazilian phenomenon’s rise to prominence it was in fact John O’Shea who laid claim to the slot, starting most of United’s big games in the position that season.

Last season saw a plethora of injuries to the United backline and everyone from Ritchie De Laet to Darren Fletcher got a chance in the right back role. Now as the Red Devils kick off a new campaign the right back question is still unresolved, with few clues about who will start against Newcastle United on August 16th.

Many supporters are campaigning for youth, with Rafael promoted as the man most likely to make the role his own. Sir Alex has shown lots of confidence in Rafael in the past, starting the 20-year-old in big games, most notably the second leg against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League quarter final. Rafael was infamously sent off that night, an event that led to the Germans winning the tie.

But Rafael’s promise showed in how well the player performed in direct competition against Franc Ribéry before the red card, getting forward regularly and keeping the lively French midfielder quiet for the most part.

The criticism of Rafael is his defensive naïvety. The Brazilian sometimes gets caught too high up the pitch and is forced into making poor decisions like the one against Munich and earlier in the season when he conceded a penalty against Manchester City. But Rafael has improved in the tackle over the past year and if there is still a major question mark defensively then the youngster is undoubtedly United’s best right back moving forward.

O’Shea represents the cautious option, with little pace and a tendency towards the lethargic in possession. Defensively Ferguson will have very few concerns though. The Irishman proved himself in the position throughout the 08-09 season and despite a slow start during the early part of his United career, O’Shea has become a fans’ favourite as a result of his work ethic and acceptance to play any role required.

Brown, however, showed himself a liability at centre back last season, and when he did get a chance at right back the brilliance demonstrated in United’s double winning season had disappeared. Brown is another player who Ferguson is delighted to have in the squad because of his versatility. It will still be a surprise to see the 30-year-old start at right back considering it has been more than two years since the role was his.

Then there is club captain Neville, who is likely playing in his last season with United. His playing time will probably reflect that fact. Neville is a good influence on the younger players at the club but the frequency with which the 35-year-old is skinned by mediocre left wingers is worrying. The ultimate pro may just have to accept a bit part role with United this coming season.

In the end the right back position will probably be fought over by O’Shea and Rafael, barring any injuries. While the romantic choice is the Brazilian, the most likely outcome is that he will share the role with O’Shea based on the opponent, with Neville providing cover against weaker opposition.

Three amigos bridge generation gap

May 31, 2010 Tags: , , , , Reads 16 comments

When Jose Mourinho takes charge of Manchester United in summer 2012 he will have on his coaching staff three recently retired club legends. That’s the scenario posed by the week’s events, with the Portuguese signing on at Real Madrid, while Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville were each offered coaching roles at Old Trafford.

With more than 2,000 club appearances between them, the trio has amassed a wealth of experience at the club that is only surpassed by the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, himself.

Indeed, with the each now taking UEFA B and A coaching qualifications as the twilight of three magnificent careers approaches, the Scot believes that Scholes, Giggs and Neville will extend their stay at Old Trafford beyond two decades.

“They are living proof for young players that the United system allows players to succeed,” Ferguson told French sports newspaper L’Equipe.

“When they stop playing they will stay. All three are taking their coaching diplomas. I don’t think the club will pass up that much experience.”

Should the amigos remain at Old Trafford beyond their playing careers it is likely each will outlast their manager, who at 68 many pundits feel is unlikely to continue beyond a further two seasons. They will also offer an important element of continuity during what is likely to be a tumultuous period at the club post Ferguson’s retirement.

The risk of turmoil following Ferguson’s walk into the sunset is already noted, with United”s chief executive David Gill promising bond investors that the club will – no pun intended – “manage” the process.  Still, there is little secret in the ceo’s preference for the Portuguese coach to take over at Old Trafford in Ferguson’s wake.

Indeed, while Gill this week claimed he will consult Ferguson on the Scot’s successor there will be few dissenting noises emanating from the manager’s Carrington office if his good friend Mourinho is offered the Old Trafford hot-seat.

“Alex is on a rolling contract. He is doing well, he is happy and he has a good staff who he works very closely with. When he decides he wants to retire he will have a word with me and say ‘The end of this season or next season’,” said Gill this week.

“We would work with him in terms of identifying a replacement. In terms of criteria we will sit down and say ‘What attributes must a manager have? Lots of things come into that. British or European? What experience they have, languages all that sort of thing as well as their track record.

“The final decision will be discussed with Alex, Bobby Charlton and the owners. I think Alex will be the key. He knows people. He will have a big role in advising and being a sounding board.”

Perhaps no surprise then that Mourinho – officially unveiled as Real Madrid manager today after the club concluded negotiations with European champions Inter Milan for the Portuguese’s services – has inserted a summer 2012 get-out clause into his new multi-million Euro contract. After all,  Mourinho’s desire for a return to England is no secret.

Whomever takes over at United – even a manager with Mourinho’s force of personality – will face not only the challenge of leading a huge organisation but Ferguson’s imposing shadow, which pervades every element of the club. Ferguson’s influence, although somewhat diluted through greater delegation, famously extended to every granular detail of the club.

Mourinho is different of course, rarely taking an interest in club matters beyond the first team squad, with little reputation for developing youth or indeed staying at any club for more than a few seasons.

Important then that the club retains a link with the past, with Mourinho’s winning track-record likely to prove attractive to Gill and his paymasters in Tampa.

If – some say when – the former Porto, Chelsea and Inter coach succeeds Ferguson in Manchester then it is United’s triumvirate of playing legends that will offer that crucial role.

Nev signs but Rafael’s time has come

April 30, 2010 Tags: , Reads 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 Ribéry 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

Nev: Fergie still motivational master

April 19, 2010 Tags: , Shorts No comments

When Manchester United’s players sat in the Camp Nou dressing room prior to the 1999 Champions League final Sir Alex Ferguson told his stars that the price for losing the match would be to walk past the trophy and not be able to touch it. Ferguson’s speech worked with United famously winning after two injury-time goals against Bayern Munich.

The legendary Scottish manager pulled the same trick on Saturday, with United desperately needing to win at in-form City to keep this year’s title ambitions alive.

“The manager asked us before the game: ‘Do you want to win this title?’,” Neville told the Sun.

“It may sound obvious but the answer is ‘yes, of course we do want to do that’. We knew we had to go out and show our fans we have the pride and the desire to win matches – and to win the league.

“We’re not getting carried away because we still have three difficult games to go, starting with Tottenham next Saturday.”

That desire translated into a 93rd minute winner from Paul Scholes, the man who has won everything in the book… and still wants more.

Three amigos in one fight too many

April 5, 2010 Tags: , , Reads 5 comments

With more than 2000 matches for Manchester United there is a safe place in the pantheon of club greats for Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.  Now in the twilight of glorious careers, the time has come for Sir Alex Ferguson to trust in new blood with defeats to Bayern Munich and Chelsea demonstrating the inconsistencies of age.

United has offered each of the triumvirate a new deal, with Giggs already signed up, Neville certain to put pen to paper and Scholes still holding an internal debate. Each deserves the new contract; not out of sentiment but because of the very real contribution they can make to United’s campaign next season.

Indeed, Giggs’ sparkling performances in the early part of the season simply continued the Welshman’s Player of the Season form during the 2008/9 campaign. The winger’s broken arm, sustained against Aston Villa in February, came at an inconvenient time for both player and club.

Meanwhile, Neville’s return to form for United at 35 years of age is a minor miracle. Never blessed with awe-inspiring talent, Neville’s determination has enabled 15 years at the very top. Yet two years of ankle and calf injuries threaten to curtail the Bury-born player’s time at the club.

Not so, and Neville has earned praise for not only for making a comeback of any kind but forcing his way into the team when many thought the task impossible.

Then there is Scholes whose ability to pass the ball at 16 years of age brought the flame-haired midfielder to England manager Glenn Hoddle’s attention before he had made his United début. Nearly two decades on and Scholes has successfully passed more balls in the Premier League this season than any other player. He isn’t even picked every week.

But while each has produced compelling performances at times this season the ravages of age has dulled the trio’s consistency. While Giggs’ stand-out performances are now rarely on the wing, Neville is increasingly vulnerable to opponent’s physicality and Scholes blows either hot or cold with little in between.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to push Giggs wide and Ji-Sung Park inside against Chelsea on Saturday produced a tepid performance from the Welshman with Paulo Ferreira – no first choice at Chelsea – consistently quicker to the ball.

Similarly Neville was unable to doing anything about Florent Malouda’s surging run for the Londoners’ opening goal at Old Trafford. While Darren Flecher chased, Neville’s static response was telling. The full-back’s determination remains undimmed but he is no longer an athlete able to compete at the highest level.

Scholes meanwhile, still the finest passer of the ball on the planet save for Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Iniesta, no longer has the legs to keep up with dynamic opponents. Restricted to an increasingly small area of the pitch, Scholes is still wonderful given time and space.

Yet against the best opposition Ferguson normally deploys the ginger midfielder in a defensive role exposing his weaknesses and limiting the player to that of a quarter-back hitting long diagonal passes.

Exposed against Chelsea on Saturday, Scholes and Neville also performed poorly in United’s defeat to Bayern Munich last week. None of the trio is likely to start against Munich on Wednesday night.

Ferguson though isn’t continuing to squeeze the last drop of blood from this stone out of sentimentality: United needs the trio. Nani’s inconsistency, Anderson’s failure to mature and Rafael’s injury troubles means that the 84 games played between the three is far more than expected at the start of the campaign.

But fair warning has been given not only of the trio’s decline but the inability of United’s younger talent to reach the required standard fast enough.

If United cannot rely on more than 15 games per man next year surely it is time for Ferguson to make a leap of faith when it comes to Nani and Rafael or move on to other players. Time waits for nobody in elite sport.

The same can also be said of Anderson when the Brazilian returns from long-term knee trouble next Christmas. United needs an attacking midfielder. If the youngster isn’t up to it by now, a dip into the transfer market beckons.

That is the crux. With United’s bank account barren the manager can spend only more debt to revitalise the squad.

Time will tell if this inquest is held once again in a year’s time.

A call to arms

January 26, 2010 Tags: , Reads 6 comments

Last Tuesday’s Carling Cup defeat to Manchester City, coming amid the continuing focus on the club’s long-term financial well-being, marked a truly dire start to 2010 for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. But one man can lead the fightback from within, at least on the pitch, as Ferguson’s men challenge for honours on three fronts.

The club’s financial turmoil has been widely publicised and there are serious repercussions looming, not least the upcoming European competitions ban for indebted clubs if the tyrannical Michel Platini has his way.

The demise of Leeds United in 2003 and now the financial hardship being felt at Portsmouth should serve as a serious reminder of how bad things can get. Even for Premier League clubs. Despite this, it appears the Glazer family faces little opposition from their peers in the deep seated pillage of football’s greatest club.

On the pitch it has been an inconsistent season for United. Normally, Ferguson’s side pushes on in the second half of the season. It’s a charge fans are still waiting for as January comes to a close.

There are challenges ahead. The old stalwarts of the side are beginning to fade from the picture. Captain Gary Neville has struggled to maintain his high standards this year and retirement is imminent. Paul Scholes, although a great player on his day, is unquestionably in the twilight of his career and struggles to guarantee a starting berth. Ryan Giggs remains the shining light for United’s experienced bunch and is still an indispensable asset but at 37 it can’t last forever.

What of the year to come with United still competing on three fronts? It’s a feat Liverpool have failed to match, small comfort though it may be. United’s upcoming tie with AC Milan in February and March looms large in a bid to save a season that could be marred by shortcomings.

And with no FA Cup to rely on for a trip to Wembley, it is now clear how important the Carling Cup is to Ferguson’s men. A derby day return leg tomorrow is now a major priority.

Then next weekend comes the trip to the Emirates for a mouth-watering, do or die, fixture with Arsenal that could define United’s Premier League ambitions. The match is followed by difficult trips to Villa and Goodison parks as ‘squeaky bum time’ begins.

Each of these matches is now a ‘must win’ for a United side struggling for consistency. The experienced members of the side need to raise the morale of a side evidently lacking in confidence. Neville, though a peripheral figure, can focus all his aggression and quality to inspire a side over-laden with underperforming youngsters.

The defender’s actions against City in the past week display a certain defiance that is a common character of the man, although may not be the mark of professionalism. It should not be underplayed. Neville’s finger illustrates that the fire is still burning deep inside. It’s something normally associated with the Roy Keane and it needs to be communicated to the current generation.

Then let us hope the thieving Americans, known as ‘owners’, realise they have all but destroyed the future of a successful club and sell up just in time for the dying embers of our season to be rekindled. This, however, may be wishful thinking.

Keano’s Column: United’s Agony Aunt

January 22, 2010 Tags: , , Just for fun 1 comment

Ola Senior Roy,

Esto es Carlos. Por favour, una importante questione. Por que Gary Neville es una grande tarado?!

Hello Roy,

Gary here. A quick question, why is Carlos Tevez such a thumb sucking, ear cupping twat?!

Carlos, Gary,

Having received your messages, I thought it best to ignore them both for the sake of my sanity and the reputation of my column. This childish hostility is best addressed in a playground, and not in a serious advice section like mine.

However, upon further advice from Trisha, my agony aunt guru, I’ve decided to help you’s out as part of my relationship counselling studies.

So readers, in the spirit of daytime TV problem sharing, Carlos and Gary are brought together here, not just so that I can practice my relationship therapy skills, but so that they can sort their shite out. The greater goal is to spare the good people of Manchester anymore suffering from their constant bickering.

RK: Now Carlos, you seem to be the one with the biggest potato on your shoulder, feeling the most vulnerable here, so why don’t you start by telling us what has made you throw your toys out of the pram ever since you left United?

CT: Que?

RK: Why are you bitter?

CT: Ah si, bitter! Como el Bitter Blues. Manchester United no bery nice to Carlos. Carlos no mucho kh’appy.

RK: But you won everything with United, and they even gave you two best friends in Ji and Pat.

CT: Si. But Ferguson never love me, and he did not make me el capitain like Gary.

RK: Feck’s sake Carlos, enough with the whingeing ! Why do you always have to be the centre of fecking everything!

GN: Calm down Roy. The issue here is not Carlos’ treatment or him going to City, after all, the end of his career is none of our business. The issue here is that he called me a sock sucker, and that really, really, hurt.

CT: Gary, you call me an argie scouse bastardo, and then you show me the middle finger. That is very hurting to me also. I come from the toughest barrio of Buenos Aires, and I have never been so hurt like this.

GN: I did not realise that Carlos. I agree that words can hurt. Truth is you remind me of me, at a younger age, when I had the world at my feet.

CT: Gary, it is only because I respect you and your achievements so mucho that I say bad things about you. I was hurt by your rejection, so I want to hurt you back. My dream was to be as loved by the United fans as you are: ‘Carlos Tevez is a red, he hates scooters.’

GN: …and all I want now Carlos is for the Stretford End to sing ‘Sign him up, Fergie, Fergie sign him up!’ to me as they did to you.

CT: Te amo Gary. One day I will speak Engrish so we can never fight like this again.

GN: Carlos, you daft little grafter! See you at Pat’s later?

CT: Si mi amor.

So Carlos and Gary worked things out with a bit of Keano’s old fashioned bro-mancing magic.

Now hopefully the animosity is behind us, and we can all sit back and enjoy the derby match at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, having managed to ensure just in time that the rivalry wont be overshadowed by anything other than the football on the pitch.

Another job well done by me.


Poll: Should Gary Neville retire?

January 7, 2010 Tags: , Polls 8 comments

Manchester United captain Gary Neville may retire at the end of the season after failing to secure a new contract with the club. Neville, who made his United debut against Torpedo Moscow in 1992, has played 583 times for the club. But the defender, 34, has suffered multiple injuries over the past three seasons. Should he now retire?

Should Gary Neville retire?

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