Date: 3rd February 2011 at 12:33pm
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In moments like this people will always try to eat off the buzz of big news.

Gary Neville retiring was always going to make waves not only for United fans but for everyone as he was a player that was able to draw emotions from fans (Liverpool and City fans love him especially) like few could but as a respected journo, I’m disappointed that Oliver Kay seized this moment as the opportunity to create a mini storm.

Speaking last night on his Twitter page, the Times journalist who happens to be a Liverpool fan (or so I have been lead to believe) exclaimed:

Micah Richards and Glen Johnson are far more gifted than Neville ever was, but Neville’s attitude made him a far better player. Overachiever.

The statement baffled me and will probably baffle you too. There is no chance of it happening as he doesn’t need to be held accountable for his words to us, the people who buy his paper to read his work but I would like a proper explanation of what exactly he meant by this.

The two players mentioned by Kay, barring some misfortune have long careers ahead of them but you could give them 20 years and I don’t think either will be anywhere near Gary Neville and not just because he has a better ‘attitude’.

If Kay was talking physical gifts then he may be right, they are probably faster and possibly stronger but this is football not boxing or athletics. It is because people think being an athlete is acceptable in the modern game that people want to even mention these two in the same breath as Neville.

For me it is the fact that a player like Richards is an athlete that holds him back. The fact that he has the pace to get him out of situations means he won’t learn the position properly. I remember a few years ago in the Manchester derby seeing Richards catching Tevez in a foot race before the Argentine could get his shot off and whilst it was impressive to see his raw pace, the question had to be asked, how the hell did he find himself in such a position? I also remember seeing him come up against Obafemi Martins and seeing him not being able to compete as the striker was just as/if not faster than him.

For all you want to say about Glen Johnson and his ability going forward he is a defender and a defender who attacks better than he defends is as useful as a bucket with holes in it.

This misconception that Gary Neville was a spit and sawdust defender is terrible and a huge disrespect to a very good player thus I would expect a man who makes his living writing about football for a fine paper like The Times not to perpetuate such nonsense.

Whilst you can give these two the physical advantages tell me which of them has better positioning, reading of the game, anticipation or general defensive ability? I fear the shadow of his last few games has clouded Kay’s judgement! To call Neville an overachiever is horrible in any sense of the word, I guess you can put it down to the phenomenal teams he has played in but even saying that he never looked like he was punching above his weight. You don’t make it at Old Trafford by being average but having a great attitude let alone having a 20 year long career.

Twitter’s 140 character limit may mean things get lost in translation, his comments may have meant something else but looking at it, that is a particularly ridiculous thing to say and appears to be writing off his 20 year career which has seen him win a number of accolades.

The Oxford dictionary defines an overachiever as someone who does better than expected.  If you happen to be on the outside looking in and don’t know that the person you defined so is as determined, strong willed and courageous as anyone and can’t see the clear talent that that person has, then I’m not sure if I want to read your views on football!

EDIT: Kay has since gone on to explain his tweet in what is essentially a nice tribute but one that still raises some questions –


One response to “There’s nothing worse than being controversial for controversiality’s sake”

  1. jonathan says:

    He should’ve recognized his error initially that “overachiever” is never a positive connotation, whatever his intention was and simply apologized.

    He reply unfortunately only reinforces negative stereotypes about English football mentality where pace is valued ahead of an IQ for the game. I can’t imagine this type of underhanded comment for a legend occuring in Italy or Spain for example. The Gary Neville whose been able to mark defenders, attack, cross etc… has been this way for the bulk of his career so it’s a bit irrelavent to describe his career in light of how talented he may or may not have been as an adolescent.

    Fortunately, I doubt Mr. Neville could give a shit in the first place for what this guy thinks.