Gary Neville – please, don’t quit the day job

Gary Neville recently questioned the thinking behind Fabio Capello’s thirty-man provisional squad for this summer’s World Cup, highlighting that choosing only one recognised right back was short-sighted and labelling an attempt to try and get Paul Scholes to come out of international retirement as  “a bit desperate”. Well, thanks for your two-pence worth Gary, but your comments smack of bitterness, so don’t let the door hit you on the way out will you.

Neville’s precise words on the right back situation were as follows; “I’m surprised there is only one right-back in the squad. I wouldn’t say I’m overly disappointed not to be named in the initial 30-man squad, although I did think there was maybe a chance I could get in. I’m probably more surprised Wes Brown isn’t in the 30, to be honest.”

Well that’s take a minute to have a look at what our Gary is really trying to communicate to us here. There is not only one right-back in the squad Gary, Jamie Carragher’s there too, you know that player, Liverpool Vice-Captain, played for England 34 times, recently controversially came out of international retirement to be part of the thirty, versatile defender with bags of top level experience. No, doesn’t ring any bells?

Onto the next point – You wouldn’t say you’re overly disappointed? Really? Perhaps one of the most passionate players ever to have graced the Premiership, a player who has Captained his club all over the world, accumulated 85 England caps, and in one fail swoop saw an international career that has spanned 14 years under 7 different national team coaches end, with any chance of a final fling at a major international tournament taken away from him with the announcement of Capello’s provisional squad isn’t ‘overly disappointed ‘? Pull the other one Gary; you’ve got a lot of reason’s to be disappointed.


You’re surprised Wes Brown didn’t make the squad too? Well considering that he’s started only 18 league games this season, contracted a metatarsal injury as recently as early March and has been left on the bench in favour of Rafael, John O’Shea and yourself in recent weeks and has been as far down as fourth choice at his club for parts of this season, and you’re still surprised? Silly, Silly Gary.

But Gary didn’t stop there with his charm offensive, which was particularly poorly timed to say the least, especially considering that the interview coincided with manager Fabio Capello just this week signalling his intent to fully honour his current contract and stay at least until the 2012 European Championships, seemingly bringing the curtain down on Neville’s England career in the process.

Neville continued onto the Scholes situation stating “I’m not surprised Capello tried to get him out of retirement because if there’s one player I would try to pull out of retirement it’s Scholes. Capello maybe got a bit desperate at the last minute and wanted Scholes because he’s still probably the best midfielder in England, but Scholes decided to stick to his guns.”

Well what can we extrapolate from this fine muddle of biased opinionated nonsense? Well I too, am not completely surprised about Capello’s exploratory talks with Scholes about him reversing his decision on international retirement, but whether this would qualify as ‘desperate’, I’m not so sure.

The fact that such a move was precipitated by an injury to first choice midfielder Gareth Barry says a lot. What also has to be taken into account is that Scholes has been in some excellent form for the past month or so, and to not at least explore the possibility of bringing Scholes back would have been downright neglectful of his duties as national team head coach. It’s not as if Capello hasn’t tried to convince Scholes to come back before either, so it’s not a new tactic, nor a sign of desperation, it just makes sense.

My final point from Neville’s inane ramblings is the statement that ‘he’s still probably the best midfielder in England”. That is a barmy statement. Scholes is my favourite Man Utd player, he has been superb for donkey’s years and has enjoyed a mini-revival of late by rolling back the years with some fantastic performances from the heart of midfield, but to call him the best midfielder in England is a bit of a stretch, even for a big fan such as myself.

If Owen Hargreaves was fully fit and firing on all cylinders, Scholes wouldn’t even be the best English midfielder at Man Utd let alone in the whole of England. This statement is also ragingly myopic that it’s frustrating. Although Steven Gerrard has had a poor campaign by his standards, he’s still one of the best midfielders in the world and Frank Lampard has had a sensational season too, driving his side to the title with a wonderful return of 22 goals and 17 assists, and both are unquestionably much better player’s on a consistent basis than Scholes is now.

I completely understand what Neville is just trying to do – give his club teammates a bit of a boost, and I fully understand that I may have been excessively irked because it was Gary Neville who made them rather than anyone else, but even still, they’re just annoying and small-minded. They’re ill-timed and more than a vestige of bitterness echoes in these words.

Neville may already be trying to forge out a career for himself in the media so he’s got something to slot straight into after his playing career is finished, but to use the words of Gary Neville’s alter-ego Alan Massey from the excellent football parody Mike Bassett: England Manager – “If we don’t qualify for the World Cup, I’m going to be sat in a TV studio next to Gary Neville….and nobody wants that.” Based on this attempt at insightful punditry, I wouldn’t say that Alan Massey’s words are too far wide of the mark, would you?

Written By James McManus

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