Former United and England great Gary Neville gives valuable and visible gravitas to Sky
‘I think it will certainly help David Moyes to get his hands on a Fabregas-type character because it will give everybody a lift’
England’s Wayne Rooney and assistant coach Gary Neville during training for tomorrow night’s game against Scotland at Wembley.
Sky are rather proud of their Isleworth broadcasting building, the most sustainable of its kind in Europe, apparently.
Opinions differ on exactly how much energy is saved and recycled but the wind turbine overhead is working double time to dispel the notion the corporation has specialised in blowing out hot air over the last two decades.
Inside, a recent recruit to their sports coverage has brought a more valuable and visible gravitas. When former Manchester United and England full-back Gary Neville was called up to the squad in 2012, it was difficult not to envisage the man ABUs regarded as public enemy number one, as anything more than a scruffy, dog-eared Grange Hill extra when suited up.
That notion has long since passed and, some embarrassing exhalations during commentary aside, he has graduated to prefect, top of the class, for many, in the punditry pool thanks to insightful analysis at the end of busy footballing weekends. Such has been his success, Sky have seemingly gone for Neville Mark II, in signing up Jamie Carragher.
Having replaced Andy Gray, the poster boy of old boys, Neville knows a thing or two about emerging from a sizeable shadow to carve his own path. His journey, however, was and is nothing like that which faces David Moyes. Neville’s integration came after Gray’s loose lips met him with a stark new reality, the new United manager is replacing the revered statesman of the game in Alex Ferguson, and his ethereal presence remains palpable.
Outside Old Trafford, at least, this could get ugly if Moyes doesn’t placate the masses.
“I do think looking at the title odds, they’re third favourites, there is a pressure that’s being applied,” says Neville when asked if a bloodthirsty media is lying in wait. “You knew that was going to happen. You’re never going to follow Sir Alex Ferguson without that level of pressure put on you.
“I think the fact that he is looking to sign players, obviously it’s been a very public move for (Barcelona’s Cesc) Fabregas, it will or won’t happen in the next few weeks. I think it will certainly help David Moyes to get his hands on a Fabregas-type character because it will give everybody a lift.”
Neville is sure the champions’ hierarchy will remain calm come what may. “It’s not been a club that’s ever worked in the immediate, it’s always worked on a plan, the fact is they’ll look at things objectively. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t sign anybody. They won’t spend money in a desperate manner.”
Moyes will be snubbed, says Neville, more than once, but that happens to the best of them. It will undoubtedly lead to more unfavourable comparisons between the two Scots but such revisionism would be inaccurate and “unfair”.