Manchester United legend Gary Neville has opened up on why he won’t call for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – or indeed any manager – to be sacked in his role as a TV pundit.
The Norwegian remains under intense scrutiny following a disastrous last few weeks, notably suffering shambolic defeats at home to both Liverpool and Manchester City prior to the recent international break to all but end hopes of a Manchester United title challenge.
The Red Devils remain only five points off the top four, yet the expectation prior to the start of the season had been much higher, the arrivals of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho leading many to tip Solskjaer’s men for a run at the title.
The latest loss in the Manchester derby had looked to be the final straw for the United boss, yet he remains in charge for Saturday’s clash with Watford, with seemingly no indication that he will be shown the door any time soon.
Despite his former side’s miserable form – which has seen them lose six of their last 12 outings – Gary Neville has consistently insisted he will not call for former teammate Solskjaer to be relieved of his duties, leading to some to accuse the former full-back of favouritism to his mate.
Speaking in an interview with the Mail, Neville admitted he recently sent the under-fire Norwegian a text of support, before revealing his reasons for never calling for any manager to be sacked.
“There are people saying this is the worst moment of my punditry career,” Neville said. “They say I am not being honest. But I am not paid on TV to sack managers and I ain’t doing it. I know the impact of Gary Neville saying a Man United manager should be sacked.
“For the pundits who have said it then ‘Well done’, but it’s not my style. When I see another pundit calling for any sacking, I cringe. My stomach turns. My line is crossed with that. Maybe their line is in a different place.”
As United prepare to travel to Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon, Neville claimed it is merely being ‘respectable’ in not demanding the sacking of a manager, although he openly admitted that his former club have not been good enough so far this season.
“This season has been a shock and they have a horrific week coming up,” he admitted.
“The signing of some very good players adds further condemnation to these recent performances. I think United with this squad should challenge for the title. But we are in a really bad position and it’s heartbreaking to watch Ole.
“For Man United fans who loved him and ex-players who still love him. It’s not easy commentating on a former team-mate.
“I think Ole not sorting out the compactness of the team earlier was silly. It was a glaring tactical omission.
“I am happy to say that. Not good enough. But I just won’t say the other thing. Not about Ole or any manager. I never have.
“I had to decide 11 years ago what type of person and pundit I wanted to be. When Arsene Wenger was dying at the end I was critical of Arsenal fans marching against him. There were complaints when I called one of them a muppet.
“As pundits, we have to decide whether we are comfortable asking for a fellow human being to be sacked. I feel I am a respectable human being.”
Some quarters have accused the former England international of hypocrisy due to the number of managers he has sacked in his role as co-owner at Salford City, although he believes there is a notable difference in the two situations.
“That’s my job. My club. That’s not my job with Manchester United,” he insisted.
“Look, if I was in charge of the football club [United] I would certainly have to make different decisions than what you hear on TV over the last 11 years.
“However I am not willing to say that on TV.”