Was Sky pundit Gary Neville told to 'nail' David De Gea?

Jan 24, 2013

After Colin Murray, another football presenter finds himself in the firing line

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IN THE week Colin Murray was ousted as presenter of Match of the Day 2, another high-profile football presenter has come under fire, with Sky's Gary Neville accused of unfairly "nailing" Manchester United's goalkeeer David De Gea after he singled him out for criticism at the weekend, possibly on behalf of the Old Trafford club.

Neville, a defender who played for United for 19 years, joined Sky in the wake of the Andy Gray and Richard Keys sexism scandal in 2011. There were fears that as a staunch United fan Neville would prove to be a one-eyed pundit, but his analysis and insight has been largely well received since he joined the broadcaster.

In addition to his media work Neville has been co-opted onto Roy Hodgson's England coaching staff.

But now his honeymoon period in the media appears to be over after one of the men he replaced at Sky, rounded on him. Keys, who now hosts a show on Talksport radio, told his listeners that he believed Neville was "sent out with an agenda" to undermine United goalie De Gea, who Neville blamed for allowing Spurs to score a late equalier against United on Sunday.

"I don't think Gary would have done that had he not been told: 'Listen, finger him'," explained Keys. "I don't think you can nail a goalkeeper in that way can you?"

Keys did not explain why he thought Neville had been told to attack De Gea, but he went even further when the Daily Mail contacted him. The former Sky anchorman said he did not think Neville should combine his media work with his England coaching role.

"I don't think he can do both jobs," he said. "It will continue to compromise him. He's also too close to Manchester United."

Neville reacted in typically forthright manner to the allegations. "This is not interesting, it's wrong," he wrote on Twitter. "I never have and never will take instructions off anybody to say anything!" He later deleted the tweet.

However, his fierce attack on De Gea also led to criticism from England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks. "I was very upset to hear Gary Neville talking about how the players were disgusted with him," he told the Mail. "It's not just the goalkeeper that makes mistakes, everybody makes mistakes in football matches."

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