Published: 17:12 GMT, 3 March 2021 | Updated: 19:59 GMT, 3 March 2021
Gary Neville has recalled how telling Sir Alex Ferguson to ‘f*** off’ led to the worst ‘hairdryer’ treatment he had ever received from the legendary Manchester United boss.
Neville has previously described the incident, which happened during a Champions League visit to Lille in 2007 and led to two away games in the stands as punishment, as ‘the most serious confrontation’ between the pair.
And the former United right-back revisited the flashpoint during a Twitter Q&A in which one of his followers asked him about the worst thing Ferguson had given him the ‘hairdryer’ for.
Neville said telling Ferguson to ‘f**** off’ had led to the worst ‘hairdryer’ he ever received
‘I once (only once) told him to FO. Not a good call,’ he replied, accompanied by a dizzy emoji.
In his autobiography, Red, Neville explained that he swore at Ferguson after following Lille’s protesting players to the touchline, much to the United manager’s dislike.
Neville won eight Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies and three FA Cups under Ferguson, but his good relationship with the Scot did not spare him from criticism.
‘It was in a Champions League match in 2007 when I had my most serious confrontation with the manager,’ he wrote.
‘We scored from a quick free-kick while Lille were assembling their wall. After protesting to the ref, they started walking off.
‘ »Come on, get on with the f****** game, » I said to their captain, following him towards the side of the pitch. The next thing I knew the manager (Ferguson) was charging down the touchline, shouting at me. « What are you doing? Get back on! »
‘As far as I was concerned, I’d been doing the sensible thing, trying to get everyone to get on with a game we were now leading. So I snapped back — « F*** off » — and walked away.
‘Now, I’ve said « f*** off » a million times to a lot of different people but never to the manager before. I knew I wasn’t going to get away with it. Afterwards I got a call to go and see the boss in his office. He was apoplectic. He blitzed me.
‘We were playing at Fulham at the weekend and he took me all the way down to London and didn’t even put me on the bench. Three days later he took me down to Reading and left me in the stands again. The trip was a total waste of time but the boss had asserted his authority. I wouldn’t be swearing at him again.’
The legendary United defender had encouraging words for Trent Alexander-Arnold during the Q&A, saying the Liverpool man could become England’s best right-back ever.
‘Fantastic player,’ he said in response to a question about the 22-year-old. ‘If he can keep improving his positional work/body shape when the ball is on the opposite side and central he will be the best English right-back ever.’
Neville also said Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland would be the one player he would sign for this United side while admitting Sadio Mane would be the current Premier League star he would struggle the most against.
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