Phil Neville acknowledges home failings
Old Trafford no longer the fortress it used to be as Man Utd lose nine matches there
Manchester United’s Paul Scholes and Phil Neville (left) applaud the fans at Old Trafford, a venue at which United have lost nine times this season. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester United first-team coach Phil Neville admits he has never felt so “empty” as he did when walking off at Old Trafford after the final game of a disappointing Barclays Premier League season, but would love to stay on and help turn things around.
There were emotional scenes as the players took to the pitch following the 3-1 win over Hull, which marked the end of Nemanja Vidic’s distinguished United career and also saw loyal servant Ryan Giggs wave goodbye for what could be the last time following his short spell as interim manager.
Just who will take charge next season on a full-time basis to replace David Moyes remains to be seen, with Dutchman Louis van Gaal the leading contender.
Neville — a member of the infamous Class of ‘92 and who returned to Old Trafford to be part of his former Everton boss’ backroom staff this summer — believes United can get themselves back on course and would relish the opportunity to try.
“I have got to say that walking around the pitch last night, after the last home game of the season against Hull City, was probably the emptiest I have ever felt on a football field,” said Neville.
“I took the job fully expecting to be walking around the last home game of the season either challenging for a league title or parading a league title because that is what this club demands.
“We have got to make sure next season we are doing that, and to finish sixth, seventh is obviously not good enough.
“David Moyes has taken the majority of it from outside the club, but if you speak to anyone inside the club, then we have all got to take collective responsibility from players, the staff, the coaching staff, everybody.
“Everyone connected to the club will take responsibility because we win together, we lose together and it was really disappointing when David lost his job because I class him as a friend as well.
“To see a man for the last eight years has put so much faith in me and so much confidence in me, to give me a platform to either play or to coach, to see him lose his job was probably one of the toughest days I have probably had in football.”
Neville admits he is unsure what the future holds for him at Old Trafford. “The bigger picture is, I don’t know what’s around the corner for me in terms of my own personal job, that’s up to other people, but the season as a whole has just not been good enough for Manchester United.
“I want to be part of Man United’s future, I am a Man United person, I love the club, I have loved working for the club this year.
“Take the results aside and what has happened, it has been an incredible learning experience for me at a club that I love and I want to be here for the rest of my life, being involved with Man United, so that is my hope.”
Old Trafford is not the fortress it once was, with the likes of relegation-scrappers Sunderland last week adding to the sides who have come away with historic victories.
Neville accepts that has to change for United to start to move forwards again.
“If you ask me for one thing that we’ve all collectively failed on — that’s definitely we have lost eight games at Old Trafford this season, that for any club in the Premier League is not acceptable,” said the former United defender, who won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League final before leaving for Everton in August 2005.
“If we played all our games away from home, then we would be League champions, but we don’t and we have lost nine games at Old Trafford against teams that we should be beating.
“Maybe teams coming to Old Trafford thought they had a chance, and that for me has been the biggest single failing.”