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'My life is full; I'm fulfilling my dreams further at Manchester United'

Last updated on: February 28, 2014 09:07 IST

'My life is full; I'm fulfilling my dreams further at Manchester United'

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Manu Shankar

Manchester United is a great football team and will go on to have much more success in the coming years.

Former United star Phil Neville, in an e-mail interview with Manu Shankar, talks about the season so far, why securing Juan Mata was important, and why the beleagured defending English champions are not ready to give up just yet.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson once famously said: ‘I tell the players that the bus is moving. This club has to progress. And the bus wouldn't wait for them. I tell them to get on board.’

Fergie was, perhaps, referring to the changes the cub would have to constantly go through to maintain its ascendancy.

Thus, it was not surprising that when the time came Sir Alex decided to step down and hand over the reins of a club he had managed for nearly 27 years.

Enter David Moyes and his team of coaches, which includes Manchester United’s favourite son, Phil Neville, who served the club for nearly a decade.

Neville belonged to the famous Class of 92, which included the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and his brother, Gary.

So, when the opportunity arose for him to return to the Theatre of Dreams, this time not as player, but Manchester United's new first team coach, he simply couldn’t say no.

However, not all has gone according to script for Neville and Moyes. Manchester United are currently languishing in seventh place in the English Premier League and the title out of sight. The defending champions are also out of all domestic competitions, leaving just the Champions League up for grabs. 

Despite the odds, Neville, however, prefers to look at the positives rather than delve on disappointments.

In an e-mail interview with Rediff.com's Manu Shankar, he talks about the season so far, why securing Juan Mata was important, and why United is not ready to give up just yet.


Image: Phil Neville and Ryan Giggs
Photographs: Getty Images

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Transition was never going to be smooth

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Manu Shankar

It’s been a bumpy ride for you this year. However do still see positives despite a disappointing season?
Yes, of course. This a fantastic football club; the transition was never going to be smooth. 

The players here have a real professionalism about them; they have been unbelievable in training. The problem has come when performances have dipped on the pitch.

I’ve seen outstanding effort in training from every individual.


Image: Phil Neville
Photographs: Getty Images
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Signing of Mata has really lifted everyone's spirit

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Manu Shankar

Landing Juan Mata must have given you a great deal of satisfaction…

Yes! Juan is a fantastic all-round player. You only have to look at the number of assists and goals he has created during his time at Chelsea.

He has only been here a few days, but already he is settling in so quickly.  Signing Mata coupled with key players coming back from injury has really lifted everyone’s spirits.
 
You have seen the Ferguson era and now we have David Moyes. So has the ideology or philosophy changed under David Moyes?

No, not all! This club has always had a winning mentality and has always looked at developing young players and giving them a chance; the gaffer has exactly the same work ethic and philosophy.

He gave Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley their chance at Everton and he has done the same with Adnan [Januzaj] here.


Image: Juan Mata
Photographs: Getty Images

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'I'm coaching at my club with the best players'

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Manu Shankar

So relishing the managerial role?
I feel that my life is full and I’m fulfilling my dreams further. I’m coaching at my club with the best players. 

I’m learning so much and this is what I want to do. I have read stories about sports people getting down after they’ve stopped playing and having emptiness in their lives, but I don’t feel like that at all. 

I had got to the stage where I was ready to give up playing and I am loving my coaching role.


Image: Phil Neville
Photographs: Getty Images
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'I love working with the gaffer and I love working for this football club'

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Manu Shankar

Does the fact that you worked closely with Moyes during your Everton days help? 

Yeah! I think I was in a very comfortable position in the summer. All I’d known was Manchester United.

Then, for eight years, all I knew was working with David Moyes. So, to suddenly be at the club where I knew both inside out, I was very comfortable with that situation. 

I love working with the gaffer and I love working for this football club. We all learn so much from the gaffer.


Image: Phil Neville and David Moyes
Photographs: Getty Images

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'Giggs is a shining light to any professional out there'

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Manu Shankar

Ryan Giggs too have joined in the ranks of coaching or mentoring. But Giggsy still commands enormous amount of respect as a player too…

Absolutely! He is also working on the coaching side as well, but 90 percent of his work is still as a player. He’s a shining light to any professional out there, but he does have a big influence in the coaching room.

In terms of actual coaching, most of mine and Giggsy’s work is probably done on an individual basis. Ryan, in particular, works a lot on the forwards and wide players, but he has to prepare himself to play as well.

He’s got the balance just right and I’d say he’s handling it really well. 

He still gets changed in the first team dressing room. He’s got that bit of class and experience to handle that; no problem.


Image: Ryan Giggs
Photographs: Getty Images

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'Difficult to replicate the Class of 92'

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Manu Shankar

You were one of members of the Class of 92. Do you think that those kind of players ever be replicated?

It would be difficult to have that many players come through at the same time and it’s great that we are all still connected with the club. 

I’ll never forget when I left eight years ago, Sir Alex said: ‘One day you’ll be back here as one of the coaches’. At the time you wonder if it was just him softening the blow. But, I think, he did have a vision of filling the club with former players, like Ajax have done. 

AC Milan’s staff is full of players who were successful in winning European Cups. I love coming to work. Part of the reason for that is that I can still work with [Paul] Scholesy, [Nicky] Butty, [Ryan] Giggsy… 

Gary’s an ambassador. There are still friends here and some of the players – particularly the seniors – can, maybe, relate to the fact that we were part of a really successful era and we’re still around the place.


Image: Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Gary Neville
Photographs: Neil Hall/Reuters

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'This club never gives up and is always looking to push on'

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Manu Shankar

What are the challenges ahead for United considering the only title left to win is the Champions League?

This club never gives up and is always looking to push on. We need to build some momentum in the Premier League and we need to continue with our run in the Champions League. 

We have added to the squad and we have a number of pivotal players coming back from injury. We will carry on working hard. I know it’s a cliché but we will look to win our next match; that’s how we have always worked and that won’t change, just keep looking to win your next match.

This is a great football team and will go on to have much more success in the coming years.


Image: Manchester United players celebrate after scoring a goal

Tags: United

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