Manchester United captain Gary Neville embodies the club, this was never more evident than in how he celebrated Manchester United’s late winner against Liverpool in 2006 where, after Rio Ferdinand’s header in the last minute, Neville ran 50 yards to celebrate in front of Liverpool’s fans kissing his badge. The relationship between the Reds and Neville is frosty at best with United fans capturing it with the song:
‘Gary Neville is a red, he hates Scousers’
His association with the club has been a fruitful one as he has picked 8 Premier League trophies, 3 FA Cups and 2 Champions League trophies so it hurts even more to say that Neville may need to call this season his last.
At the peak of his powers Neville was one of the finest right backs not only in the country but in the world. He worked the right wing with pal David Beckham supplying crosses for the likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Teddy Sheringham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. It was not only going forward though as he was a solid and assured performer at the back strong in the tackle and characterised by his no nonsense attitude.
A part of United FA Youth Cup winning team, Neville never had the talent of Giggs or Scholes but his above average ability as well as determination have carried him far but now at 34 and struggling with injuries is it time to step down?
After picking up an injury against Bolton in 2007, Gary Neville has floated in and out of the United team with various muscular problems wreaking havoc on any attempt to at a steady run in the team. When he has appeared, although his passing and crossing is still amongst the best at Old Trafford, he clearly is not the same and this has been glaringly evident against Aston Villa last season at home where Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor gave him so many problems in the center of defence as well as out at right back.
He faced a similar situation with Aaron Lennon in the Carling Cup earlier this month as well and although the players mentioned have the pace to cause any defender problems the situation was compounded by Neville’s age and injuries which are clearly stopping him from playing anywhere near the peak of his powers.
Now out after picking up another groin injury against West Ham at the start of the month, Neville will have to seriously consider his place at the club. He will realise that when he plays, managers pinpoint him as a weak link in the team and tell players with pace to focus on him, a situation a player of his calibur will not like. He is under contract with United until the summer of 2010 and that could be the perfect time for Neville to bow out.