20110901

Will Red turn the studio air blue when Neville teams up with old boss Hoddle?

by Jon Culley

Gary Neville’s just-released autobiography, Red, has jumped to the top of the Amazon sports bestsellers’ chart, which will not surprise anyone who saw the queues that formed as the former Manchester United and England full back signed copies at London’s Canary Wharf on Thursday afternoon.

It is probably fairly safe to assume, however, that Glenn Hoddle, one of six managers for whom Neville played during his 85-cap England career, will not be requesting a personally inscribed edition when the two sit alongside each other in a Sky television studio on Friday evening.

Indeed, if Hoddle has read the book he might want to talk to Gary about matters other than England’s performance against Bulgaria in Sofia, when both will be Sky pundits.

A touch of controversy is almost essential if a football autobiography is to attract any worthwhile publicity and Neville has made sure he fulfils that obligation in Red.  Unfortunately, Hoddle is one of his targets.

Neville criticises the Football Association for even appointing the former Chelsea manager in place of Terry Venables, whom he says the FA ’let go too easily’, and lumps Hoddle with Steve McClaren as someone given the job ’before he was ready’ -- an intelligent coach who wanted England to play the right way but who lacked man-management skills.

And he also makes clear his scepticism -- almost contempt -- for some of Hoddle’s ideas.

‘He also believed in alternative methods, including Eileen Drewery, the faith healer, who'd visited the camp a few times before the World Cup,’ Neville writes.  ‘As a bit of a sceptic, I'd never gone to see her.

‘When the 1998 World Cup started, some of the players started taking injections from Glenn's favourite medic, a Frenchman called Dr Rougier.

‘After some of the lads said they'd felt a real burst of energy, I decided to seize any help on offer. So many of the players decided to go for it before that Argentina match that there was a queue to see the doctor.

‘Before the game, Glenn did his usual pre-match routine of moving around the players, shaking their hands and touching them just over the heart. We'll never know if the methods had any positive effect.

‘One of the masseurs told me Glenn had asked the staff to walk around the pitch anti-clockwise during the game against Argentina to create positive energy. Sadly, it didn't do us much good.’

Hoddle may be cheered to know at least that he is not singled out for criticism.  Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson and McClaren do not escape unscathed, although confusingly Neville on one page has a pop at the Swede for guaranteeing a place to David Beckham (among others) instead of picking the best team, but then on another claims McClaren made a mistake in deciding Beckham should be dropped.

Red: My Autobiography is published by Bantam Press

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