Football

Gary Neville Sounding An Alarm Roy Keane Already Flagged Eight Years Ago

Gary Neville Sounding An Alarm Roy Keane Already Flagged Eight Years Ago

Before his first season managing in the Premier League in 2007, Roy Keane was finding it hard to buy the players he wanted at Sunderland.

His transfer targets were expressing misgivings about the thought of upping sticks and experiencing the delights of living beside the Wear.

And Keane knew who was to blame. Their women.

If a player doesn't want to come to Sunderland then all well and good. But if he decides he doesn't want to come because his wife wants to go shopping in London, then it's a sad state of affairs. It's not a football move, it's a lifestyle move. It tells me the player is weak and his wife runs his life.

Not exactly sounding like a patron of the National Women's Council, Keane lamented that women were increasingly 'running the show'. This was bad news, in his view.

It reflected badly on the players too. Sounding like an ex-hurler talking about the modern game on 'Up for the Match', Keane remarked that the players had gone soft.

The idea of women running the show concerns me and worries me, but the players we're talking about are soft. Priorities have changed in footballers and they are being dictated to by their wives.

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Gary Neville left the WAGS out of it in his apocalyptic article this week. But his piece immediately reminded one of Keane's rant from eight years back.

Neville prophesied the decline of football in the North of England, heavily referencing the North-East, formerly a hotbed of the game which has produced some of the greatest English footballers in history (Charlton, Waddle, Gascoigne, Shearer).

Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are now limping behind the likes of Crystal Palace, something which Neville regarded as unthinkable during his own career.

Like Keane, he sees the question of lifestyle as being central.

Does any top player now want to go and live in Newcastle or Sunderland or Middlesbrough?

That is not being disrespectful. I still see them as great football cities, with fantastic people, who are having the life sucked out of them.

What is becoming most important to today's player is not the culture or history of a club, but the location, for the family, and the distance back to where they want to live (the pay packet is also a huge factor, of course).

Neville sees the North of England struggling to keep pace with the economic powerhouse that is London. This is increasingly reflected in the Premier League.

Only Manchester has held the line against this tide.

Read more: Alex Ferguson Reveals Why He Took Great Pleasure In Helping To Relegate West Ham

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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