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Is Gary Neville a 'Bootlicker' or a Legend… or both?


Gary Neville is many things to many people: a legend; ‘a red who hates Scousers’ in the eyes of United fans; an insufferable manc in the eyes of opposition fans; and to that list you may well add ‘bootlicker’ – kissing the feet of his manager, expressing his ‘views’ to present a-fan’s-view-that-conveniently-supports-that-of-his-boss. Carlos Tevez’s candid description of his former colleague came less than two days after Neville swore at him during Tuesday’s Manchester Derby. Even while emotions, at least it seems for Carlos, are still raw, there is much to suggest that Carlos’s views are not too far from the truth.

What is not in doubt is his legendary status for his performances on the pitch. As a right back from his debut until March 2007, his performances were meticulous, consistent 7-out-of-10s until his injury against Bolton terminally reduced his effectiveness. Starting as an ode to Paul Parker (nudge to Kanchelskis and stay back), he improved so dramatically that he was played as an attacking wing back in Euro ’96. His partnership with Beckham blossomed, his crossing improved, his tally of games increased, his legend was made. He will forever be Ferguson’s greatest right back, a dead cert for any ‘Greatest Fergie Era Team’, but while he in many ways owes Ferguson a lot for his career, will that debt be paid by offering fawning platitudes?

Neville’s increasingly notorious column in the Malta Times newspaper often contains a series of homages to his boss: “We have the best manager in the world at putting teams together“; “he will assess the situation and do what’s best for the club“; “Over a period of 20 years he may have got one or two wrong“. It all seems fairly moribund stuff, but on reflection it seems to whitewash over Fergie’s shortcomings – “one or two wrong”? Diego Forlan, Kleberson, Nani and Massimo Taibi to name but a few purchased for over £4m, that list ignoring the greatest mistake of them all… Juan Sebastian Veron. None of these could be described as anything other than poor signings (in their performances for the club) and (horrifically so in the case of Veron) wastes of money (Nani is the only one who can possibly alter this perception). “He… will do what’s best for the club” shows a Tomkins-esque level of trust in the manager – it can be argued that Fergie has earned trust through his incredible trophy haul, but to dismiss all chance of a Ferguson mistake (heck, it can be argued that signing Berbatov, Hargreaves and Anderson will be viewed in the fullness of time as mistakes) is naívété bordering on idiocy. That is if Neville really believes what he writes.

In comparison to his predecessor as United captain, Neville is little more than a ‘bootlicker’ – Roy Keane was nothing if not brutally honest: when Gary Neville states that Ferguson is ‘probably more interested in his horse (Rock of Gibraltar)’ than managing the team, or openly criticises the sale of a major defender (Jaap Stam), then perhaps the opinion should be reassessed. As for now, whilst being one of the greatest full backs in United’s history, it seems that Gary Neville may well be remembered in the eyes of many as a man kissing the feet of his superiors, as well as a legend.

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  1. Keith

    January 15, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    If falling in line and not publicly criticising your manager is something to criticise then have a pop at Neville.
    The fact is this, Neville has been a loyal one club man. There’s very few like him now. He was probably the best right back of his generation and he always gives everything to his cause.
    Neville is one of those players who if you support his team you will love, if you don’t you’ll hate him.
    Neville, Terry, Gerrard, Scholes, Giggs. Notice anything, they all come from successful teams, the backbone of their team.
    It’s the unity and commitment that brings success, people like Neville have a lot to do with it.

  2. MarkB

    January 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Maybe someone should tell him that the pornstar look is rather out of date. He could also stand to get a little more familiar with soap and shampoo. What a sleazeball.

  3. edgar

    January 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Gary Neville was a legend, and is an annoying little twat. -This coming from a Manchester United supporter. He doesn’t know how to shut his mouth. By the way he does that to suck up to Ferguson. (Agreed) He should worry about playing football and nothing else. He can’t even get a game anymore!

  4. Charlie

    January 22, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I don’t think its a question of loyalty. Everyone knows Gary Neville is loyal and has served Man U and loyalty like is a true rarity in the game. I think things revolve more around the fact that the 34 year old man that has started just 18 premier league matches in the last three years runs his mouth like he does. Why comment on Tevez departure in the way that he did? At this point in his career he has to be thinking about retirement and possibly a coaching role. What better way than to become your managers right hand man? For all we know he could just be Fergusons little mouthpiece, how else do you become captain playing as few games as he has? That said, on a personal level I hate the man. He talks too much and unfortunately, despite Tysons post to the contrary, he doesn’t prove anything on the pitch so I’m not sure where he gets off flapping his gums. Plus, shave that disgusting goatee

  5. MNUfan1991

    January 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

    This is called LOYALTY, my children. How many one-club players you can name outside United? Let’s see… Gerrard… that’s about it.
    Name another manager who brings home HALF as many trophies and I’ll reassess my statement.

  6. Brian

    January 21, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Neville is a c*nt.

    • Clampdown

      January 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

      I’m offended that you would insult c*nts that way.

  7. Bishopville Red

    January 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Gary Neville is unapologetically Manchester United. He’s not licking boots – he believes it with every fibre. It’s not political or Machiivellian, it’s his truth.

    The guy blanked Peter Schmichel in the tunnel before their first Manchester Derby encounter, for crying out loud. After all the wars they’ve been through, he still shunned him for leaving united.

    The real question is, just how cranky a miserable sod would Gary Neville been all his life if he never made the grade at United?


  8. Tyson

    January 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    He is most definitely a football legend.

    A man who dedicated his entire career to a single club without a moments hesitation.If they cut his pay packet to nothing tomorrow he’d play for the sheer love he possesses for the club and he’s been around for years.

    The Tevez situation is actually quite interesting because United were in a similar position in the past with Nistelrooy and the likes and Neville stood behind Ferguson and we know where United went from there.

    Fact of the matter is the man does his talking on the pitch and he has been one of the greatest players for his club. His manager on the other hand may be the greatest of all time.

    His last big recruit was this little guy called Cristiano Ronaldo and hes kind of not a bad player. This Ronaldo guy who very few who heard of is only the most expensive and well paid football player in the history of the sport and referred to Ferguson as a maestro and attributed the height in his career to him.

    It says a lot about a club when a terrorist has to take over to give you an opportunity to win something. It’s a shame to all British people that somebody from the UAE has taken over one of our clubs.

    It is utterly humiliating considering a British girl was just arrested in the UAE for having sex before marriage because some waiter raped her. I’d be all for using a nuke on these people if it wasn’t for the impact it would have on the global climate.

    • Laurence

      January 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm

      Agreed that he deserves ‘legend’ status at United for all his services to the club. His dealings off the pitch have been ‘mixed’ to say the least and that is why there is this debate, despite those, he had glory days and deserves the plaudits for it.

      Don’t agree with the bit about the nuke, took away from some of the good you did in the first couple of paragraphs.

    • Django

      January 22, 2010 at 6:59 am

      Wow, those last two paragraphs are wildly offensive and ignorant.

      And if they cut his pay packet he’d stay because nobody else would want him. Loud, obnoxious, and past it.

    • Huh

      January 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm


  9. THE GREAT ABU (Anyone But United)

    January 21, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Gary who?
    Man who?

    Yer not famous
    Yer not famous
    Yer not famous anymore

  10. Kopite in OK

    January 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Anyone who labels Gary Neville a “boot licker” is a legend in my book…

    Of course there are countless other names and phrases that would properly describe him even further…one of them rhyming with the word bunt.

    • MNUfan1991

      January 22, 2010 at 9:12 am

      Do you folks need a new trophy case for all the silverware you collected in the past few years?

  11. Marc

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Gary Neville is a Red, is a Red
    Gary Neville is a red
    he hates Scousers

    Phil Neville’s still a Red, still a Red
    Phil Neville’s still a Red
    he hates Scousers

    Tracy Neville is a Red, is a Red
    Tracy Neville is a Red
    she plays netball

    • Laurence

      January 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

      You could switch any of those last lines around…

      Sidenote: There used to be a running joke in the UK that David Beckham had a crush on David Beckham and Beckham actually left United to get away from Gary.

  12. pungentjoe

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    as a united fan,i love gary neville and gary neville is a true united fan
    he also knows who butters his bread, so its ok if he sides with his boss
    loyalty’s not such a bad thing,having said that he should retire after this season he’s really is past it,slow as the snail that was laurent blanc
    i have the best memory of neville celebrating united’s victory over
    the pool a few years back.
    long live manchester united(in spite of the glasiers)

  13. robert

    January 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    i’m not a big united fan either, but it seems like you’re really reaching for a story here. we support those who we side with, like, admire, are related to, etc. in general. those who don’t are in a very small minority. doesn’t make the majority “bootlickers”… or does it? i guess i just don’t think it deserves a singling out. his behavior is not that different from anybody else’s, whether you view him as hero or villain.

    • Kamal Amrani

      January 24, 2010 at 5:45 am

      Am a united fan I think Gary Neville is falling from grace in a very bitter way. So far this season he hasn’t done anything remotely noticeable on the pitch, yet off it he seems to cause nothing but unnecessary headlines. In my personal opinion as long as a player performs on the pitch he can do/say what he wants, and ironically a perfect example would be Tevez. Neville however seems to want to bow out of his playing career, at least, in the most undignified way possible. Just look at Giggs, probably more popular and loved than ever, and
      Scholes. I hardly ever see a newspaper article or interview about them. They know what they get paid for is to play football and thats all they concentrate on. Another perfect example would be his own brother Phil, he took the risk and move to a “smaller” club and yet he is still thriving not only as captain but as one of their most important players.

      Anyway lets not forget this is the captain of Manchester United and the example he is setting to the younger players in disgracefully to say the least. At the end of the day the whole Tevez affair Man Utd is between Tevez and Fergie. Why Neville has decided to involve himself when his own playing career is sinking faster than the Titanic is beyond me.

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