Gary Neville – A Future Management Great?

For footy fans, particularly of the English game and the Premier League, one of the highlights of the week these days is Monday Night Football on Sky Sports.

It has become so popular that the actual match itself is nearly a side-show whilst pundits dissect the weekend’s major talking points with expert analysis in the truest sense of the word. Monday Night Football is like the best kind of education – a school you adore going to rather than trying to find excuses to miss. Not that any of us did that, obviously.

The two analysts for the show, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, have forged reputations as the new darlings of the football media. Everyone wants to hear their opinion; their take on matters. Every utterance from the pair is treated with a reverence and respect usually reserved for royalty – particularly the latter, Neville. Even those who would have despised him as a player can’t help but admire his sharp, penetrating and forthright views on footballing matters.

The former Manchester United star and current England assistant coach has been part of the Sky Sports team for three seasons now and his reputation has burgeoned with each passing campaign as he lays knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb upon a relatively amateur public. The addition of one of his arch nemesis’ from his playing days, fellow defender Jamie Carragher, has spurred the show itself onto new heights with the two becoming something of a dynamic duo, feeding off old rivalries and new camaraderie to bring football analysis to new heights.

Neville has recently intimated that his time with Sky Sports may be coming to an end in the very near future with a career in full-time management his next step. Should the former England international take the reins of a club, it will be hugely exciting to see how he performs.

There’s a fairly uncomplicated trend with the very best and most successful football managers. They emanate intelligence; various forms of it. Tactically – that’s a given – but also emotionally. They are nigh-on-psychologists with the ability to identify what sort of support a player needs: an arm round the shoulder or a kick up the backside. They make players want to play for them through sheer admiration and esteem; and possibly through fear of letting them down.

Respect is a key component in modern football management. Through his playing career and now through punditry, he has retained it in spades.

As a player, he was technically and tactically brilliant. A real old-school, traditional full-back: excellent defensively, he would also attack but never over-zealously. He was a standout leader in a squad packed full of them, skippering one of the biggest clubs in the world for five years.

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Neville The Person
Few would have had a sense of Neville’s personality outside of footballing circles. On the pitch he was a particularly spikey character who was never shy of pinning his colours to the mast for all to see. His work with Sky, though, has given us an excellent insight into ‘Neville the person’ and, in truth, he is a mightily impressive character.

Already holding UEFA A and B coaching licences, his work alongside Roy Hodgson has also been a relative success. Although England failed to make it out of the group stages at the World Cup there have been signs of a progression amongst a young squad with Neville known to be a major influence within it.

It is only a matter of time before Neville takes his first steps in management and no doubt comparisons will be made with a manager for who he played under for so long but any mooted parallels with Sir Alex Ferguson would be unfair. Neville is clearly his own man and whichever club he does decide to manage could just be getting themselves one of the future greats. No pressure, Gary.