Gary Neville sends a cheeky message to Boris Johnson
At a press conference today, the Prime Minister was asked whether he and his ministers had stoked up division in the country in relation to their views on football players taking the knee. Sky News’s Beth Rigby asked the Prime Minister today: “For many people your own record undermines your image as a unifying Prime Minister. “What are you going to do to change that?”
In response, the Prime Minister rejected any allegations he had stoked division in the UK.
Commenting on social media, Gary Neville said: “Liar.”
During his press conference in Coventry today, the Prime Minister was pressed on his stance on those fans who booed England players taking the knee.
The Prime Minister insisted he always disagreed with those who booed the players.
Gary Neville issued a one-word response against the PM (Image: GETTY)
Gary Neville: Mr Johnson faced questions today (Image: GETTY)
He also admitted there is “still a long way to go” in ending racism in the UK.
Last month, England players took the knee against Romania and were met with boos by certain sections of the crowd in Middlesbrough.
Asked to comment on the matter, his spokesman claimed Mr johnson respects the rights of those who want to protest peacefully.
They added: “On taking the knee, specifically, the Prime Minister is more focused on action rather than gestures.
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Gary Neville called the PM a “liar” (Image: Twitter )
“We have taken action with things like the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities and that’s what he’s focused on delivering.”
After the Euro 2020 final, three England players were racially abused across social media platforms.
Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all received vile attacks on social media following England’s loss to Italy on Sunday night.
Following the abuse the three players received, the Government has claimed it will take further action to force social media platforms to remove hate and racist abuse online.
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Gary Neville: The players were booed last month (Image: GETTY)
Gary Neville: Fans gather to lay cards and flags at Rashford’s mural (Image: GETTY)
The Prime Minister met with representatives from the social media giants to encourage them to do more to tackle hate online.
Under the Online Harms Bill, Ofcom will be in charge of enforcement and could issue fines of up to £18million or 10 percent of annual global turnover if social media firms do not act quick enough to remove comments.
Changes to football banning orders, introduced in 1989 to stop repeat offenders, will also come in following a 12-week consultation of the Online Harms Bill.
Four people have been arrested after the England trio suffered disgusting racial abuse on social media.
The UK Football Policing Unit said: “Following England’s defeat against Italy on Sunday a torrent of racist comments aimed at some of the team’s black players appeared on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“A hate crime investigation is underway by the UKFPU, with a dedicated team of investigators working their way through a large number of reports from across the country.
“So far, dozens of data applications have been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces.”
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, said: “The racial abuse aimed at our own players following Sunday night’s game is utterly vile and has quite rightly shocked and appalled people across the country.
Gary Neville: Members of the public gathered at the mural over the last few days (Image: GETTY)
“Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity.
“I’m disgusted there are individuals out there who think it’s acceptable to direct such abhorrent abuse at them, or at anybody else.
“The UKFPU investigation is well under way and work continues to identify those responsible.
“We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries.”
The spokesperson said: “I would utterly reject that claim. The Prime Minister set out this morning his response to some of the awful comments that we’ve seen.”
Asked about the former England footballer’s allegation that Mr Johnson and other ministers suggested it was fine to boo players taking the knee, the spokesman said: “It’s not accurate.
“The Prime Minister was clear that he wanted to see everyone getting behind the team to cheer them on. He made that clear on the 11th, before England’s first game.”
Downing Street has criticised England fans who stormed Wembley Stadium without tickets and caused trouble in Trafalgar Square.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Those scenes were unacceptable and we condemn violence, anti-social behaviour and abuse in the strongest possible terms.”
Asked whether the level of policing was adequate, the spokesman said: “As with all major policing operations there will be lessons to be learned.”
But he said Boris Johnson retains confidence in Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, saying: “He does have confidence.”
Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said if she was the prime minister or the home secretary she would be “embarrassed” and “probably ashamed” at the words they used and their conduct at the start of the Euro 2020 tournament surrounding players taking the knee.
Former England defender Gary Neville has jumped to the defence of England fans who booed the Danish national anthem during their Wembley semi-final on Wednesday. The incident prompted punishment from UEFA, who have charged the English FA over three incidents which occurred during the match.
Aside from booing the national anthem, they were also charged with fan-related incidents including setting off flares and pointing a laser pen at Kasper Schmeichel before Harry Kane’s extra-time penalty.
Although the punishments are unknown as yet, the English FA are believed to be in line for a sizeable fine.
UEFA released an official statement on Thursday which read: “Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final match between England and Denmark (2-1), played on 7 July at Wembley Stadium, London.
“The case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) in due course.”
The general response has been one of disapproval when fans are heard booing, although Neville has emerged as one of the only high-profile voices willing to suggest another side to the story.
Neville said via Twitter: “When I played in the different countries and our [national anthem] was booed I always took it as the opposition fans trying to unsettle us, drown our fans out and never as some kind of attack on us as people.
“Same when we did it other teams. Is it really that bad and disrespectful?”
Either way, the mind games seemed to work in England’s favour after they clinched a narrow 2-1 victory over Denmark in extra-time.
The laser pen incident preceded a missed Kane penalty, although he was on hand to convert the rebound and prompted the country to flood out of pubs and houses to line the streets.
The result sets up a final with Italy who battled their way through the tougher half of the tournament draw.
Come Sunday, fan behaviour will be under the spotlight again, although it may take a back seat to the fact that the Three Lions will appear in their first major tournament final since 1966.
Gary Neville says Gareth Southgate’s England deserve their shot at Euro 2020 glory after a “mesmerising” night at Wembley and admits Gareth Southgate’s crop of 2021 has gripped him.
England came from behind against Denmark on a night of high drama and tension as Harry Kane’s extra-time goal – a rebounded shot after his penalty was saved – sent the team through to their first major final for 55 years.
Neville admits England’s new date with destiny is a day he thought might never come but believes Southgate’s players deserve their chance to end decades of hurt against Italy on Sunday.
“It’s incredible,” Neville told Sky Sports News.
“It’s a day that you sometimes never think will come through all the pain and dismay we’ve had in tournaments over the years, but we’ve finally got to a final.
“The atmosphere at Wembley was absolutely amazing. Gareth Southgate said it was the best atmosphere he’s seen at the new Wembley.
“Obviously, he was at Euro 96 for that Holland game where we beat them 4-1 and it was special against Holland, special against Spain in the quarter-finals, but last night it seemed more special.
“Maybe it was because I was in the crowd and I was up on that second tier. You were in amongst it and also the fact we’ve had no real fan presence in stadiums for 18 months, it just felt like it was a massive outpouring of emotion.
“It was mesmerising at points in the game and even pre-match. I’m not surprised that in the first half an hour the players were a little frantic and didn’t really demonstrate composure in their performance.
“They were a little bit affected but you couldn’t not be. The noise around you was just absolutely incredible.
“It’s okay to say football players should remove themselves from the atmosphere and the emotion but they had been feeling it for the last two or three days. They’ve had families and friends ringing them and they’ve obviously got into the stadium and they are down there by the pitch, and you can just feel it.
Then, they did settle down after half an hour, but the crowd were an absolute joy and a dream.”
‘The players deserve this’
Neville says he was blown away by the “mesmerising” atmosphere at Wembley and admits the current version of this England side has moved him.
“I’ve watched England many times over the last 10 years and I’m normally quite cold about football. Sometimes I’ll get a bit worked up about Man Utd games, but I watched the England vs Germany game last Tuesday and I felt quite emotional during that match.
“Maybe it was just the fact that 25 years ago I was sat there in the crowd. I didn’t play in the semi-final because I was suspended and watching the team I was thinking about how many times we had come out on the wrong side of these types of matches and how many times is it us that have the bad headlines the morning after.
“Just seeing those lads overcome Germany last week, I did feel quite emotional. Then, [against Denmark], it was honestly mesmerising. It was spine-tingling being in that stadium.
“I grew up adoring Manchester United and loved playing for England. So, for me, I always loved my country. I loved playing for England but never really got to the point whereby it gripped me like this has in the last seven to 10 days.
“I loved watching the team in Russia, but this is obviously completely different being in England. It’s so special, especially with the fans not being in the stadiums in the last 18 months.
“I just think it’s the way the team and the players have conducted themselves and the way in which they have behaved over a period of time now and performed.
“Last night, like everyone else, I am absolutely overjoyed and delighted that we won but it actually wasn’t the most important thing.
“It’s the fact I genuinely trust the manager that we’ve got. I genuinely think the players are a good bunch of lads who love playing for England, who have removed all the cynicism and cliques that I was part of for many years with England.
“So, credit to them. They deserved what they got because of the way in which they have handled themselves. Not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.”
‘Never a penalty in a million years, though!’
Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand was very critical of the decision to give England a penalty for a foul on Raheem Sterling in the first half of extra-time.
Neville agrees it was a harsh decision – but thinks England would have gone on to win the match anyway.
“Never a penalty in a million years,” said Neville.
“I always think, what would the headlines be, how would we feel this morning, if we were on the other end of that penalty?
“We’d be absolutely devastated.
“But I genuinely think that team would have succeeded without that penalty. I think it would have done something different and got that goal.
“When (Kasper) Dolberg and (Mikkel) Damsgaard went off for Denmark, the game changed completely, and they lost their legs.
“I think the goal would have come.
“It was never a penalty, it was really soft, but I’m glad we got it!”
‘Southgate made right call on Grealish; The players trust him’
Jack Grealish came off the bench in the second half, before being replaced but Neville says the decision was typical of Southgate’s ability to make tough calls.
“It was a tough decision because of the stigma that goes along with a subbed sub.
“It wasn’t a tough decision in terms of the football call or the tactical call. It was the absolute right thing to do. Grealish has been absolutely outstanding the whole way through this season and I love him to bits, but he was the right player to take off.
“He was struggling to get into the game from an attacking perspective and from a defensive point of view over on the left, he’s not as strong as the rest of them.
“It wasn’t a difficult call from a football point of view, but it was from an emotional point of view. But Gareth has proven many times during this tournament that he will make the tough decisions for the better of the team.
“And because he’s got the trust of the players and the respect of the players, there’s no nonsense. He made the right call for the group; he made the right call for the country and he made the right call for Gareth Southgate and his job because he had to get a win.
“He would have been criticised heavily if we hadn’t beaten Denmark, so he had to make the right calls and he’s proven he’s ruthless and clinical.”
England had to come from a goal down after Mikkel Damsgaard’s free-kick but Neville’s fellow Sky Sports pundit, Jamie Carragher believes their triumph after that setback will be character-building.
He said: “When the Denmark goal goes in it creates panic. It was a great goal and the first free-kick we have seen in the tournament, but England were always going to need to go through some adversity, whether it was in the semi-final or the final because it’s almost been a perfect progression.
“Either conceding the first goal, having to go to a penalty shootout or even getting a player sent off, there are difficult things you have to overcome if you want to win a tournament or a title or a cup competition.
“Italy have been through it with Spain and also the game against Austria. They were very fortunate with an offside decision as well so you need these things to go for you and I always felt something would happen that England would have to overcome.
“I think that it is a really big hurdle they’ve overcome and I wasn’t too nervous when [the Denmark goal] went in because I just felt England would have to do this either against Denmark or in the final on Sunday.
“You’ve got to come through tough moments if you want to win things and that was a big one for England.
“How quickly England got the equaliser was important too. If Denmark had got in at half-time with a lead, then worry would have set in.”
Carragher admits England’s progression to Sunday’s showpiece has surprised him.
“It’s massive because I didn’t think England were capable of getting to the final.
“I thought getting to the semi-finals would be a great achievement for this squad before the tournament, and that was looking at the draw and who we were pitted against in the last 16.
“I thought it was going to be really difficult, whether we faced Germany, France or Portugal, and not since 1966 has an England team not just got the final but beaten a major nation in a knockout game.
“That’s what we did against Germany and we’ll have to do it again to lift the trophy against Italy.”
Redknapp: Southgate has surprised me with selections
Jamie Redknapp says Southgate has been strong enough to make some surprising calls during his tenure – and it has paid off so far.
The pair were team-mates in the England squad who reached the Euro 1996 semi-finals – and Redknapp says even then Southgate was showing some of the traits which have made him such a success as a manager.
“He was always the sensible one in that Euro 96 squad but that wasn’t hard, if I’m honest!” said Redknapp.
“He’s certainly a thinking man, not necessarily more than anyone else but, let’s put it this way, he wasn’t in the dentist chair. He was one of the players that stayed behind and was pretty sensible.
“Gareth was a great trainer and a good footballer. He knew his strengths, knew his limitations, but was always a thinking man and that’s why he’s done so well with this squad.
“He’s lucky he’s got some really good young players because it doesn’t matter how good a manager you are, if you haven’t got the tools to work with, you’ve got no chance, and I think this is a really strong generation of players. There are a lot of good young players that are wanting to learn.
“I think we also have to give a lot of respect and almost a bit of gratitude to the managers that these players are working with.
“A lot of them work every day with Pep Guardiola [at Manchester City], Thomas Tuchel [at Chelsea] and managers that have so much success, so they are learning from some of the best coaches in the world.
“Gareth is reaping the rewards for that and we are lucky we have got this group of players.
“But we’ve also got a manager who is so calm and sound of mind that he knows what he is doing.
“He’s surprised me with how strong he’s been with some of the decisions he has made.
“Some of the teams he has picked I’d have never picked them, never, and a lot of football people that know the game inside out would say the same.
“So, you have to say you’ve got everything right, so far. So, fingers crossed he can do that again in the final.”
Wimbledon chief has told Gary Neville he is wrong to claim tennis has been given special treatment because it is a posh sport. The Government announced on Monday that The Championships will have 50% capacity from the start on June 28 – and a full Centre Court for finals weekend.
Neville took to Twitter to complain: “Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at The All England Club packed with tens of thousands crammed like sardines in a tin.”
And Manchester mayor Andy Burnham added: “One rule for tennis, another for everyone else.”
But Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton, the first woman in the role who used to run Wigan rugby league club, said: “I wouldn’t really comment on what his views are – that is a conversation you will have to have with him.
“The reason we are able to have an increased number of spectators at the Championships is that we are part of the event research programme and to that extent we are helping to support the Government and the sector to understand how we can increase fans as we work our way out of the pandemic.
“We are really pleased to be playing a part in that. I don’t think that has got anything to do with class.
Neville then extolled the virtues of Cavani as an old-fashioned number nine who can lead the line and provide stability and leadership up front to help bring the best out of his young emerging teammates in the United strikeforce.
“This is a throwback. A classic centre-forward, makes brilliant runs, runs that you’d be taught 20 years ago, and I just think he’s been an absolute joy,” he enthused.
“We questioned at the beginning whether he actually could do it for Manchester United, but he’s done it and I’m delighted he’s going to be at Manchester United next season.
“They’re a better team with him in it. I think he’s in the best team. Always in great positions, the timing of his runs and finishing from those positions is the best in the league.
“Everybody that knows and loves English football knows this is wrong,” the former Manchester United and England full-back told Sky Sports .
“I called them imposters. It was an attempted murder of English football and ‘sorry’ doesn’t wash. It’s gone past ‘sorry’ because it’s twice that they’ve done it.
“If you were sorry the first time with Big Picture you wouldn’t have brought back this one.”
Neville added: “The idea that you take away equal and fair competition, the idea that it’s a closed shop and teams like Leicester can finish in the Champions League but can’t play in the Super league, is despicable.
“It was an attack on Leeds United, it was an attack on Everton, West Ham, Newcastle, some of the greatest clubs in the history of English football.
“What about Ajax? PSV? Feyenoord? These unbelievable clubs. They’ve just been left with the pennies, while the rich go away and take £3million every week for 23 years and created their own league.
“Honestly the scariest thing is that these people are regrouping back at base, they’re not going away, this is their second attempt in the last eight months.”
Neville insists it will take government intervention to thwart the attempts of the Big Six and their fellow plotters on the continent to set up a Super League in years to come.
“There has to be government legislation,” he said. “The government are the only people who can stop this.
“That’s not for anybody else to run English football. That’s just to make sure clubs like Man United, Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham doing it again because they run English football.
“‘[Florentino] Perez and [Joan] Laporta, the presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona, two of the biggest clubs in the world, have told us ‘we’re coming back for you’ so this lot are not going away but need to be stopped.”
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Gary Neville have started a slanging match following the announcement of a European Super League. Liverpool are founding members of the breakaway league which was announced officially late on Sunday night. Manchester United legend Neville has given strong criticism against both his former side, as well as Liverpool and the other English clubs involved, in the last 24 hours.
Neville questioned Liverpool’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ motto following the decision to sign up for the league.
But Klopp hit back at the Sky Sports pundit after the 1-1 draw with Leeds at Elland Road, saying he should not be allowed to talk about the club’s anthem.
“I take the criticism for everything,” Klopp said.
“I take it if we don’t play well, I feel responsible for these kinds of things and the players feel the same.
“He talks about hotseat, I had a 25 year career at Manchester United, 11 years at Sky and I worked hard for that. I’ve not been handed it, I’ve not gone where the most money is, I didn’t have choices.
“Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t say every year, ‘Gary do you want to stay here?’ So I have no idea what he’s going on about.
“I employ 600 people in the city, I tried to look after them through a pandemic, is that not a hot enough seat for him?
“He’s done a great job at Liverpool, I’ve got no problem with Jurgen Klopp, I loved his team.
“But the fact of the matter is he’s spiky, he’s been let down by his owners, his owners have thrown him under a bus.
“To be fair, we’re on the same page, we’re actually on the same team, but the fact of the matter his he can’t say what he wants to say and I can, and I accept that.
“The Jurgen Klopp we know, you know and the Liverpool fans know, he hates every single little thing about this more than I do, more than you do, because it goes against every little thing he believes in.
“He’s been let down by his owners and so have those players at Liverpool.”
Gary Neville has named Eric Cantona as his dream Monday Night Football guest.
The maverick forward was a catalyst for Manchester United’s success under Sir Alex Ferguson following his arrival from Leeds in 1992.
Cantona spent five years at Old Trafford and was at the centre of some of the most iconic moments in Premier League history.
His famous celebration following his goal against Sunderland in 1996 has stood the test of time.
And while he enjoyed many heroic moments, the infamous kung-fu king at Selhurst Park in 1995 saw him banned for eight months.
Cantona would certainly not be short of stories to tell despite his relatively brief stint in England following his surprise retirement at 30.
Neville, who has sat in the Sky Sports studio with many famous names, has also said previously that the Frenchman would’ve struggled to adapt to the demands of the modern player.
Nowadays professionalism is key and the former player turned pundit believes Cantona’s free spirit wouldn’t have enjoyed the demands placed upon him, but longed to see players like the Frenchman in today’s game.
“We always talk about characters and personalities – people who do things differently,” Neville once said. “We thrive on that, it would be boring if you had the same stuff in interviews.
“We like characters but it happens less because of the importance of professionalism.
“In the 1990s, it was still allowed that you could go out for a drink. It wasn’t the idea that you were superstars, you were footballers but there was still a connection with the man in the pub.
“That’s become detached and players are now athletes, every time they put a foot wrong [they are criticised].
“People like [Eric] Cantona would’ve flouted lockdown rules. They’re mavericks, they do what they want, they want freedom. What we expect from football players now, we don’t allow that anymore – it’s not tolerated.
“The mavericks of the game are being weaned out because of behaviours. I was boring as hell, no one wanted to be a Gary Neville!
“You want to see people like Cantona who express themselves differently, we’re drumming it out of players.”
Gary Neville has pinpointed the three positions Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to prioritise strengthening this summer as Manchester United look to build on their progress this season.
United look set to finish in the top four again and still have a good chance of landing some silverware after winning the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie with Granada on Thursday.
But it’s evident that the club need to invest in their playing squad if they want to close the gap on rivals Man City and be in with a shout of challenging for the title.
A number of players have already been linked with a switch to Old Trafford, but Neville feels Solskjaer must specifically target certain areas.
Asked during a Twitter Q&A who Man Utd should sign as priorities, Neville said he wanted to see a centre-back, right-winger and a striker all brought to the club.
Centre-back has been a longstanding issue at United in recent years as Solskjaer continues to seek a solid partner for captain Harry Maguire.
Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate and Brighton’s Ben White have all been linked, while Borussia Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou is also an option.
With regards to a right-winger, United seem to have gone cold on signing Jadon Sancho after their failed approach last summer, though could reignite their interest when the transfer market reopens.
A need for a striker seems to have become a more pressing concern as Edinson Cavani edges closer towards the exit door.
The Uruguayan signed a one-year deal in October with the option to extend by a further year, though is said to be unhappy with his lack of playing time, with Boca Juniors now circling for his signature.
In an ideal scenario, United would beat off competition from pretty much every big club in Europe for Erling Haaland, but would likely have to fork out at least double the £68m release clause in his contract, which doesn’t become active until next year.
Neville’s former teammate Paul Scholes identified another possible alternative, but conceded that Haaland was the prized jewel.
Scholes told BT Sport: “Haaland’s the obvious one, isn’t he? Harry Kane?
“These types of players, will they come to Manchester United at this point? Can United pay the money for them?
“I think they probably can, I think it’s up to them which club they choose. I think the two of them would probably have the choice of any club in Europe.”
Asked whether United would spend big to land a striker this summer, Scholes added: “I think they probably would. If it meant getting Haaland, then why not?
“It’s a player United will be desperate for, a player Chelsea will be desperate for.
“They’re probably the two clubs that would be able to afford to pay that fee.”