Phil Neville has joined the coaching staff at Manchester United and couldn’t be happier about it.
He takes part in the first team training activities and has been a prominent figure on the bench during the pre-season, seen giving instructions to every substitute before they come on the field.
“The couple of days before pre-season, when I knew I was coming back, was probably one of the proudest times of my career,” Neville said. “The first day back at the training ground was really special, going back to a place I knew and still seeing the same faces and feeling the same love. I was on cloud nine. I still am. I’m loving it. It’s really challenging. To finish my playing career and automatically go into a job like this has been perfect. I have gone from someone who goes to bed at 9-9.30pm to someone who, at 12 midnight or one in the morning, is still planning, preparing coaching. When your head hits the pillow it is still buzzing. The change from my quite boring type of methodical planning I would do as a player is now that you eat when you get two minutes, you speak to people when you have got five minutes and you don’t normally have five minutes. People say, ‘What are you doing all day?’ but you are constantly trying to plan, prepare the players, and you are worried about the other staff and making sure everything is all right. Yes, that is the manager’s job but as a coach, and his coach, it is my job to make sure he knows every bit of the information as well as he possibly can. I can’t wait for the first real game. I am like a kid at Christmas.”
After retiring from playing, Phil was interviewed for the Everton job and had a plan of where he wanted his career to go. But then Moyes was appointed Manchester United manager and things changed.
“I was interviewed for the Everton job and spoke to Roberto Martinez about going back there as a coach as well,” he revealed. “I was really impressed. I had also agreed a contract with the BBC and I thought maybe I would take 12 months out, go to the World Cup, learn, do my badges. But in the back of my mind there was always this little thing that I wanted to come back to United. The turning point was when the gaffer got the job here. He had been promising me for three years that he would have me on the staff wherever he was. So it seemed like this was fate in a way. He got the United job and I came back home. I was delighted when he got the job. I had worked so close to him and I knew more than anyone what it was like to be involved at this club. I knew he would be blown away by the experience of being the United manager. He was born for this job. I always felt that when I started coaching I would be worried and nervous but from the minute I walked in to the training ground it just felt right. We have experienced coaches here and then we have me and Ryan, who are the younger ones. We are the ones who will continue the United legacy. A large remit of the manager’s job is to continue to produce young players. To do that he needs people round him who have been through the system and understand it. For 12 months that will be our role. The coaching part we will pick up along the way. There will be times when we can be the link between the players and the manager as well. I have just finished playing and you might say, either after a long flight or after this situation or that, players probably want to stay in bed an hour longer. And it is information like that which the boss is pulling from us at the moment. To be honest, had I finished my career here and gone straight into coaching it would have been a bit difficult. But I have been away for eight years so they see me differently. They now see me as a coach. Also, when you have the staff kit on — it doesn’t give you extra power but it gives you that extra bit of respect. It is inbred in this culture here.”