Gary Neville has been issued with a warning for running down the touchline after Michael Owen scored an injury time winner. How bizarre. No, not Neville celebrating a winning goal scored by Owen, I know that still takes some getting used to, but for Neville to be warned for celebrating a goal. Again, not because Shay Given did exactly the same thing after Bellamy made it 3-3 but because Neville’s passion is something that should be celebrated, not punished.
In a day and age when players can move straight to their local rivals because they’re offered more cash, should the FA not be trying to encourage the feelings Neville has for his club?
Essentially, I’m not too arsed about what the FA deem to be acceptable or not because they’re a bunch of inconsitent, hypocritical wankers. Again, if other teams don’t have players in their squad that care as much as ours do, even better.
Would Toure have been racing down from the bench to celebrate if City had scored a late winner? Course not. Their big-money buys don’t hold anywhere near the same passion for the club as people like Richard Dunne, who was shamelessly forced out of the club and out of the captain’s armband. It’s great what money does for your club, eh?
Cesc Fabregas clearly has very strong feelings for Arsenal but his true love is Barcelona and I would be surprised if he was still at the club next season and amazed if he was still there in two years.
Robbie Keane has already shown that there is at least one club he thinks more of than Spurs, after signing for Liverpool, banging on about how he was a Liverpool fan and this was the best thing ever, before Rafael Benitez took a disliking to him and sold him a few months later.
John Terry and Steven Gerrard are hailed as the loyal and passionate members of their team, but money has tempted both of them away, with Gerrard handing in transfer requests and Terry admitting to ‘sleepless nights’ over City’s offer. Thankfully for them, both of them were rewarded for their ‘loyalty’ with massive new contracts, so they wouldn’t be tempted to turn their heads again.
When you compare this behaviour with the likes of Paul Scholes, one of England’s finest ever midfielders, who’s never had an agent, and Ryan Giggs, who took a rededuction in wage just so he could get a longer deal with the club, it makes you understand what real loyalty and commitment is all about.
United have something very rare in their squad, particularly in comparison to the top teams. Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Danny Welbeck are all local lads, whilst John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans and Darron Gisbson have all been at the club since they were kids. Not only does this have an effect on their commitment and how they play, but their attitude infiltrates down in to the other players too.
There are several teams who have spent more money than us since the Premiership began, and in terms of net spend, there are five clubs who have higher outgoings, with United spending on average something around £7.5m per season. Yet none of these teams have come close to dominating the Premiership like us because they don’t have a solid core of players who have dreamed of playing for their club and who have spent their entire careers there.
Harry Redknapp has spoken out about the difference between United players and the rest of the league in terms of their desire to see their team succeed, regardless of whether they’re playing or not.
“That’s why United are where they are,” said Redknapp. “They are a team and they are all together. Gary Neville has won everything there is to win but you look at the excitement he showed at his team winning, when he wasn’t even in the team. He wasn’t sitting on the bench with his arms folded. He was jumping higher than Fergie. When we played United at White Hart Lane the week before, my coaches, Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand, were in the stands along with the United boys who weren’t subs. They were jumping up and down at every decision and again when they scored their goals. That winning mentality goes right through the club. Gibson and all the other boys wanted to play but they also have those feelings that they showed. There are not many clubs where you get that. It’s something you’d like to develop. It’s hard to change some people but that’s what makes winning teams. I thought it was amazing to see Neville’s feelings show and the joy he had at winning.”