First Touch

Has Gary Neville Lost His Marbles?

Being a Liverpool fan I should really hate Gary Neville. Whisper it, but as a player I really quite respected him: a player with a lot less ability than many of his peers, but a man with a will and desire that was second to none. A player who won medal after medal and earned millions, but the passion to win didn’t diminish one iota. Boy could the England team do with a few Gary Neville’s right now.

By Matty Lawrence

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Now, as a pundit, Gary Neville is up there with the best of them. Granted the bar is low at the moment, but at least in Frank Lampard he may finally have some competition, and the worldwide audience may have a sidekick who doesn’t require subtitles.
gary neville Like us all though, Gary gets it wrong sometimes. And earlier in the week he had me spraying my Cheerios all across the kitchen. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes as I scanned the football news over breakfast. The great Gary Neville appeared to have lost his marbles, along with his memory, on the subject of managerial sackings:

“I would support completely the idea that managers can’t be sacked during the season.”

Pardon, Gary? run that one past me again! You expect me to get behind a rule that allows a manager to run a team into the ground and into the relegation zone and expect the owner to sit idly by while his investment goes up….I mean down in smoke? Because that’s what it is, right? an investment: most owners do actually want to make money.

And what about the poor fans who are forced to watch such turgid rubbish week after week? Do they not get any say in this? You know as well as I do Gary that it’s the fans, more often than not, who influence the owners to pull the metaphorical trigger.

Fan Power

Football fans love to give you the ‘we’ll turn up whatever the weather and however the team is performing,’ but that’s only the hardcore fans. Most clubs tend to thrive off the fair weather fan, and nowadays the tourist fan. I played at Crystal Palace in 2010 when 15,000 used to turn up to our Championship games and I’ll bet you any money that 98% of the crowd came from about three counties surrounding Selhurst Park.

I went back to watch a game just a few weeks ago and the lure of the EPL brought well over 25,000 to the match including numerous fans from all over the world. That is to Palace: imagine the diversity of the crowd at Old Trafford, Anfield, or Stamford Bridge.

A large percentage of these fans turn up expecting a modicum of success. When they pay their money they have the right to think that the owner can hire and fire at will to give their club the best chance of that success. Sometimes survival in their division is all they ask for.

Valencia Reject

I don’t know, maybe Neville is still a little bit peeved at how quickly he was removed from Valencia after his unsurprisingly disastrous spell. I’m sure the Valencia players and fans are more than cock-a-hoop that this idiotic notion is only that: an idiotic notion. And anyone who has the gall to argue that you can’t sack the players if they are doing a bad job can step outside and self-combust. You can drop the players, you fools.

How about every team has to start with eleven players and however badly they are playing you have to stick with them? Only an injury means you can bring in somebody else from the playing staff: an equally ludicrous suggestion and one that even Gary wouldn’t get behind.

Neville took out his spade and dug a little deeper: “Football would support it, in terms of the professional side – I’m not sure whether the owners would.” I know that Neville has a decent fan-base at Sky Sports, but now he is the voice of football? He knows exactly what “football” is thinking and knows they would support his theory? I’m really struggling to believe this for more than about a nanosecond.

Salford Lads Club

I played at clubs where the manager would have destroyed the team and the club if they hadn’t been removed. Managers who had gained such little trust and respect from the players, that it was evident that a majority of them were performing well below peak. This wasn’t the players want, it was just that they had no idea what the manager wanted from them: there were more grey areas than an English skyline.

Let’s not forget that sometimes owners just make the wrong appointments. Sometimes these owners know this within a matter of weeks and it is up to them to clear up their own mess: not just for their own good, but the good of the club and the good of the fans.

A manager who can’t be sacked can sit in a little bubble for twelve months knowing he is untouchable. I agree that most managers wouldn’t think like this, but the same as every profession, there are some bad ‘uns out there.


I believe the final summing up of this argument should focus on Gary Neville himself.  For those of you who don’t know, Neville and four other multi-millionaire, ex-Man Utd teammates own a 50% stake in their own football team/vanity project. The team is Salford City (slightly ironic) of the sixth tier of English football. The other 50% is owned by billionaire Peter Lim who also owns the majority stake in the afore-mentioned Valencia CF. (I know, you couldn’t make this shit up, sometimes). So, Gary and his chums, a few months into their reign, decided to sack the manager. The timing, I hear you ask? Oh, it was mid-season.

No more questions, your Honour.

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