Gary Neville's public dislike ofManchester Cityhas resurfaced as he made a candid admission of his "hatred" forLiverpoolbut also acknowledged that he has more respect for them than the club Sir Alex Ferguson derided asManchester United's "noisy neighbours".
Neville was prominently involved in the hostilities between the two Manchester clubs last season, caught making a one-fingered sign towards Carlos Tevez as the City striker celebrated scoring against his former club in the Carling Cup semi-final. The former England defender was also given an official warning by the Football Association for the way he celebrated Michael Owen's stoppage-time winner in the league meeting at Old Trafford, running along the touchline to goad City's supporters.
His latest remarks are likely to go down badly at both Anfield and Eastlands, with Chelsea possibly implicated as well, but Neville has never hidden his feelings for United's rivals and did not shy away when asked whether it was true he hated Liverpool. "When I was younger there was no doubt about it," he said. "I was a United fan, they [Liverpool] were winning everything and it was a horrible time for my club, to be honest, through the 70s and 80s.
"I suppose it came from jealousy through my childhood – jealousy, hatred, passion for your own club. You don't want them [Liverpool] to win anything, and you don't like the people who are winning, just like I've seen in the last 15 or 16 years, from a good side, everybody is now 'we all hate Man United' – and they hate Man United because we are winning."
It was here that Neville made what can be taken only as a thinly-veiled reference to City, the biggest spenders in English football for the past two years.
"I have more respect for Liverpool, in a sense of their tradition and their history, than I do some of the other clubs that have come on the scene in the last few years, throwing a load of money at it." He then added pointedly: "They [Liverpool] have got a good history – you have to hand it to them – and they have been successful."
Neville's comments fall into line with a career in which he has frequently courted controversy but, by his own admission, is probably now in its final season. "Two years ago I thought it would be my last season. Last year I felt the same. I recognise this one could be as well. I am on a one-year contract. If I don't perform or the club don't want me anymore, I will be gone. That is life. In the 19 years I have been here, it has happened to better players."
Patrice Evra, the United left-back, has lost his appeal against the five-match ban imposed by the French football federation for his part in the World Cup players' mutiny against Raymond Domenech. Evra argued that it was unfair to single him out just because he was the captain but a hearing in Paris threw out his case.