5 Things We Learned From Gary Neville's Manchester United Testimonial

They say you can't lean anything from friendlies but there was plenty to glean from Manchester United vs Juventus last night: Beckham's still got it, Owen definitely hasn't and Butt's a baldie.
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They say you can't lean anything from friendlies but there was plenty to glean from Manchester United vs Juventus last night: Beckham's still got it, Owen definitely hasn't and Butt's a baldie.

They say you can't lean anything from friendlies but there was plenty to glean from Manchester United vs Juventus last night: Beckham's still got it, Owen definitely hasn't and Butt's a baldie.

1) Contrary to general opinion bought on by his decision to play in MLS David Beckham has not retired. The head banded swashbuckler looked every bit a decent player, overlapping, tracking back, being the hub, crossing and firing in a great long shot. OK it was a testimonial with no savage tackles but the tempo was enough to have all the old boys hanging onto each other and the corner flags whenever they could. Were we mental to imagine Beckham might come back to a top end Premiership side? It's hard to look at him and not just think 'Star'.

2) The Old Boys. Seeing Butt (bald), Phil Neville (dirty blonde) and Gary Neville (East German Soldier style regimented march) coming to the final years of their careers is a Reality Check for men of a certain age. These were the youngsters back in the day when Man United had patched up Dogs of War like Pallister and Bruce and Robson on board. Now they are the legends young fans look back at and listen to their dads and elders foam at the mouth about. Add the two wingers and even non-Manchester United fans will appreciate it was an exceptional crop and Ferguson did right to stick with them for so long.

3) Juventus appear to have signed a Pavel Nedved look-a-like in Milos Krasic, he also plays like him too. For half the game we were thinking 'F**k us, Nedved's still going strong, he looked like he was getting old five years ago in the Champions League." For what it's worth Nedved always looked to us like a cross between Roman Polanski and Sharon Stone.

Seeing Butt (bald), Phil Neville (dirty blonde) and Gary Neville (East German Soldier style regimented march) coming to the final years of their careers is a Reality Check for men of a certain age

4) Fergie's definitely got multiple personality disorder. Anyone who had seen the press conference in the afternoon and witnessed the man behaving like an East European Despot ordering a reporter to be banned will have been stunned by the cold fury. The hatred. The face like speckled brick dust on  bags of hard set concrete. And then come the night he's wandering round smiling, in awe of the moment, relaxed, not hogging the limelight, really revelling in the bonhomie of the occasion. Two. Different. Personalities. Anyone seen the Boston Strangler with Tony Curtis?

5) For those of us who don't support Manchester United it was an opportunity to try and take in some perspective on Gary Neville. If he was one of our own who would he have been? Le Tissier, Bull, Kelly, Mabbut, Adams? Would we have respected his love of his/our club? Should we respect him for trying hard, putting endeavour over skill? How did he manage to go unchallenged with England for so long? It was an opportunity really to warm to the man. But you know what? Even in this moment for a guy who has given his all for a club that meant so much to him, it's still impossible to feel anything for him in the way you can admire or respect Giggs, Scholes or Beckham. Call us uncharitable but you can read elsewhere on here for an appreciation of the man.

6) POST SCRIPT: Michael Owen's been banging on about not being in the England Squad again. Michael, take a look at that moment when you were free, onside with acres of space in the six yard box. A quick look up and you could have passed it into the gaping goal mouth but instead you instantly rifled it high and wide. You might not be able to see that as a glaring miss but fortunately Mr Capello can.

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