LONDON (AFP) –
New England manager Roy Hodgson made a surprise move Monday by adding Gary Neville to his coaching team.
The Football Association announced Monday that former Manchester United and England defender Neville had been appointed on a four-year contract and that he would begin work under Hodgson in time for next month’s European Championships.
But while Neville, who only retired from competitive football in the 2010/11 season, should help Hodgson in forging links with players, the decision to allow him to continue as a media pundit could lead to possible conflicts of interest.
Neville, who holds UEFA A and B coaching licences but has no senior coaching experience, made 85 appearances for England while winning every domestic honour with Manchester United, and the Champions League.
The full-back also represented England three times in the European championships (1996, 2000, 2004) and twice in the World Cup (1998, 2006).
He retired in February last year and has since been widely praised for his work as a football pundit with satellite broadcaster Sky Sports.
The 37-year-old Neville will now join coach Ray Lewington and goalkeeper coaches Ray Clemence and Dave Watson in Hodgson’s coaching staff at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
“Gary has achieved so much in the game as a player with Manchester United and England,” said Hodgson in an FA statement.
“He has obtained UEFA coaching qualifications and will be tremendously respected by the players because of his vast experience as a player.”
The former West Bromwich Albion manager, whose career includes spells in charge of Switzerland and Italian giants Inter Milan, added he wanted Neville in his England set-up right from the moment he was approached by the FA.
“At my first meeting with the FA, I explained that Gary was someone I wanted as part of my staff,” Hodgson said.
“I think it is very important we have a younger coach who knows the dressing room and is very experienced at international level.
“That he has represented England as a player at five major finals tournaments will make him an invaluable member of staff.”
Neville, who is also set to continue as a columnist for Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper outside of major tournaments, said he had no hesitation in joining Hodgson’s backroom team.
“Roy asking me to be a part of his staff and to work with the national team is not only an honour but a very special moment for me,” Neville said.
“I had absolutely no hesitation in accepting this role and I am relishing the opportunity to work alongside Roy and the team at the Euros and through to the next two tournaments.”
In his newspaper column last week Neville, reflecting on the appointment of Lewington, who worked alongside Hodgson at Fulham, said: “It is fine to bring in at least one trusted lieutenant… but I’ve seen England managers who have been surrounded only by mates, people who weren’t experienced at international level, and it didn’t work because they weren’t challenged.”
However, he also highlighted how then-England boss Terry Venables had appointed Bryan Robson to his staff, saying of the former United and England captain’s involvement: “Bryan Robson was closer to the players in age and played with many of them.
“He was able to keep the dressing room in check and get alongside them.”
Hodgson will hope Neville’s mood has changed since the United favourite gave a pessimistic view of England’s future published in his autobiography, published just last year.
“I don’t see us competing seriously for a major tournament for at least 10 years,” wrote Neville, adding “there have been times when I’ve reflected on my international career and just thought: ‘Well that was a massive waste of time’.”