Gary Neville has given an exclusive interview to Red News in the latest edition of the fanzine, where he talks about everything from life before United as a fan, joining the club as a youth player, winning trophies, and life after United.
His passion for the club is so evident in everything that he says, particularly when he reflects on the moment where he was asked to join United’s school of excellence in 1986.
I remember where I was, receiving the letter, and the feeling when I opened it. I was so happy, amazed, and a bit surprised. You do realise at the time that it is a big moment in your life because you are so happy; that happiness is something that you don’t get all the time.
Once I got in the doors in ’86, I didn’t leave the club until 2011. I was there. I was wearing that badge, every single week, for 25 years; and I wouldn’t let it go. However, in the end I had to. I started playing crap! My legs had gone!
That letter changed everything. It’s the best thing that has ever happened in my life because it transformed everything that I did in the future.
The 1998-99 was obviously his best time at the club, when Manchester United won the unprecedented Treble, and he hails the midfield for the impact they made.
I think the Treble winning team had a spirit, a cohesion, a group of players that were all at their peak, and a midfield that was off the scale. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and David Beckham, it was off the scale. There will never be another midfield like it, there can’t be another midfield like it. It is the best midfield that we have and ever will see in English football.
There were a lot of factors behind our success that year but to be honest with you, that midfield was the real force. It was just so outstanding. It was amazing, absolutely amazing.
United are a long way from the Treble now and while people want to blame the manager or the players, many fans hold the Glazers ultimately responsible, which is a view Neville agrees with.
I own multiple businesses and I always say that if there is a problem with the business, it has to be my problem. I appoint the guy underneath me, I appoint the person and individuals of the business; everything stems back to the top.
However, what I would say is that the Glazer family have put their faith in the CEO, the vice-chairman, to operate the football club. At this moment in time, the club operates from a commercial and financial perspective very well. However, from a football perspective, football performance has to be the priority, and, at the moment, the football side of the club is being mismanaged. From the recruitment, to the succession planning, the pin-ball of moving to another: from Moyes, to Van Gaal, and now Mourinho; there is no consistency to approach.
So my view is that it stems back to the owners. The football side of the club, I believe, now needs football leadership and somebody qualified to operate that side of things.
I don’t think the root of the problem is Jose Mourinho. I think that what you do as a football club board is to give the manager the platform to be successful. The club have supported him financially with lots of money. However, I believe the recruitment process, the strategy, is not good enough.
My view is that the club is probably in the best shape that it’s been since Ferguson left under Mourinho. United have actually had an upward trajectory in terms of performances. The club finished second last year.
If United go and sack Jose Mourinho, where do they end up then? The next manager comes in and wants to get rid of another seven players and spend another £300m. It just becomes a spiral of a mess for another two or three years.
I hope for the next 18 months, Jose is supported in the transfer market. Everybody should be focussing on one thing: catching Manchester City and catching Liverpool.
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