Pundit/coach? Neville can’t have it both ways

Gary Neville will be part of Roy Hodgson's England coaching staff
Gary Neville will be part of Roy Hodgson's England coaching staff
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Gary Neville has been a revelation as a TV football pundit this season – but he is deluding himself if he thinks he can carry on with that job and coach England as well.

The former Manchester United star insists there is no conflict of interest.

Sorry, Gary, there really is.

And I am surprised Sky Sports have agreed to let Neville fill both roles.

For what it is worth, I think Neville has had a superb debut season behind the microphone.

He is candid, refreshing and utterly unbiased despite his United allegiances.

I also think he is a very good addition to Roy Hodgson’s coaching team because he understands what makes players tick.

But he can’t do TV analysis AND the England job.

Neville claims: ‘I will continue to be honest but I have never criticised a player maliciously, anyway. I just want to give people insight.

‘That kind of analysis would never have bothered me as a player, as long as the person involved was prepared to say the same to my face.’

But the reality might prove to be very different and, frankly, unworkable.

Imagine a televised Premier League match in which, for instance, England captain Steven Gerrard – in Gary’s opinion – was having a shocker.

Imagine, too, if Neville believes John Terry is too slow and should be left out of the England squad.

Will he continue to shoot from the hip about those issues on TV?

Or, as Roy Hodgson’s link to the England dressing room, does he now have to hold back?

Can he jeopardise his relationships with two of the senior players by saying what he really thinks?

Indeed, can he really comment at all on England selections and performances?

Not without it causing raised eyebrows and bad feeling.

You can imagine some England players muttering: ‘I thought Gary Neville was supposed to be one of us. Can’t believe he had a go at me on Sky.’

There is a grave danger that Sky will end up with a diluted and compromised version of a superb football analyst.

Or that Neville’s comments will cause friction with the very players with whom he is supposed to have a rapport.

I don’t think it can work.