Search for your sports books:

Featured Publisher: John Blake
Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



Read Review
<back to archive

Gary Neville by Tom Oldfield

Release date: 30th June, 2007
Publisher: John Blake Publishing

List Price: £17.99
Our Price: £12.59
You Save: £5.4 (30%)
Buy Now

Most football fans would agree that, whatever they think of their opponents and whatever detrimental songs they may sing about them, there are always some opposition players who would be warmly welcomed into their fold.

Feisty, fervent, footballers such as Roy Keane, Alan Shearer and Jamie Carragher are the types we're talking about: hard, no-nonsense sorts beloved by their own fans and grudgingly respected by opponents. Players who make a difference by inspiring team-mates and fans alike; always driving forward and never taking a backward step. Average supporters can actually accept defeat, but they hate watching well-paid professionals under-perform or, worse still, appear to give up. None of this trio could ever be accused of throwing in the towel.

The same is true of Gary Neville, a footballer who has probably never received the credit he deserves for playing in the most dominant domestic side of the last decade and a half. You do not play for so long under Sir Alex Ferguson without being an exceptional player; one only has to consider who has left Old Trafford to appreciate the accuracy of this statement.

Tom Oldfield's impressive writing debut makes it immediately clear why Neville has enjoyed such longevity: determination. "Surrounded by so many talented players," he writes, "Gary quickly realised÷he had to make sacrifices to keep up with other players who he deemed to have greater ability." Gary Neville appreciated this at the age of 16; a year later, he was making his Manchester United debut as a substitute in a UEFA Cup tie against Torpedo Moscow.

The following season, he enjoyed an extended run in the first team, surrounded by intimidating characters such as Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Mark Hughes, Eric Cantona (from whom he simply received a Gallic stare if he did anything wrong), Paul Ince and Roy Keane. Most intimidating of all was Peter Schmeichel who frequently dished out as much verbal abuse to his back four as he did to opponents. For an inexperienced youngster, it was a sink-or-swim environment and Neville's inherent determination ensured he swam.

Naturally enough, much of Oldfield's narrative deals with an impressive succession of Premiership titles, FA Cup successes and United's isolated Champions League win, but the frequency with which Liverpool are mentioned suggests the author understands the burning desire every successful player at Old Trafford must have to try and emulate the achievements of their greatest foes. Nowhere is this more evident than in Gary Neville's persona.

In 1999, Neville's exalted status among United fans was elevated further when he wrote: "You might think the intense dislike that the vast majority of Manchester United fans feel towards Liverpool would grow less when you become a professional footballer. Well, it doesn't." The feeling remains mutual.

Oldfield's text also acts as a reminder of the number of big-name stars with whom Sir Alex Ferguson has had disputes during his period at the helm: Paul McGrath, Norman Whiteside, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Japp Stam and David Beckham have all been shuffled out of Old Trafford, while Gary Neville has remained a loyal lieutenant. This would suggest that as he secures his necessary coaching qualifications, Neville, despite commercial commitments in Malta, may have one eye on ultimately taking charge of Manchester United. Pretty as the Mediterranean island is, one fancies the call of the manager's job at Old Trafford would prove too great, although opposing fans will wince at the very idea and hope he enjoys a prolonged retirement in Malta÷


<back to archive


Toolstation


SBOTM Current Top 10

Unstoppable: My Life So Far By Maria Sharapova
Particular Books
Read Review Buy Now
Over and Out: My Innings of a Lifetime with Test Match Special By Henry Blofeld
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Football: My Life, My Passion By Graeme Souness
Headline
Read Review Buy Now
Rugby, The Game Of My Life: Battling For England in the Professional Era By Rob Andrew
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Ali: A Life By Jonathan Eig
Simon & Schuster
Read Review Buy Now
A Clear Blue Sky By Jonny Bairstow with Duncan Hamilton
Harper Collins
Read Review Buy Now
From Orient to the Emirates The Plucky Rise of Burnley FC By Tim Quelch
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
Ascent By Sir Chris Bonnington
Simon & Schuster
Read Review Buy Now
Glove Story By Rob Stokes, Derek Hammond & Gary Silke
Conker Editions
Read Review Buy Now
The Way of the Runner A Journey Into the Fabled World of Japanese Running By Adharanand Finn
WW Norton
Read Review Buy Now

Amazonís top 6 best-sellers

© Sharks Media Ltd 2004 Ė 2012. Site designed and maintained by Marcus Hamblett for Furydesign.