Gary Neville believes Manchester United dominated the second half of the 1990s because they eradicated the drinking culture from their dressing room, unlike Liverpool’s ‘Spice Boys’.
From the 1995/96 season to 1999/00 the Red Devils clinched four Premier League titles and Neville has attributed a key reason behind their domestic dominance to a healthier lifestyle away from the pitch.
Neville’s ‘Spice Boys’ dig: Five things to know…
- Neville believes some Liverpool players “were still going out and drinking” towards the end of the 1990s.
- He is adamant Man Utd’s success from 1995 to 2000 was “purely based on fitness”.
- United won four league titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League trophy in that period.
- Neville added that when he came through the United Academy, there was still a drinking culture at the club – which was the norm in English football.
- But he says the dressing room soon suppressed that unhealthy lifestyle and adopted a more rigorous training mentality.
Emerging from United’s esteemed Academy at the start of the 1990s, the Class of ’92 right-back has revealed there was still a drinking culture when he was coming through the ranks, but says it was soon quashed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side went on to achieve unprecedented success during his formative years.
Speaking at the Soccer Science Conference at Hotel Football in Manchester, Neville told Training Ground Guru: “When we came through there was still a drinking culture Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, every club was doing it.
“We stopped, we didn’t do it, and we won four out of our first five league titles purely based on fitness because the rest of the clubs were still drinking.”
Neville then suggested a Liverpool team that included the likes of Jamie Redknapp, David James, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jason McAteer, had been unable to match United for a clear reason.
He added: “Think of Liverpool and the Spice Boys, they didn’t get that nickname for nothing. They were still going out and drinking. We weren’t.”
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Neville on Lingard’s recent social media activity
Neville’s comments came after Jesse Lingard was criticised by fans for his recent social media activity, but the former England international says he would rather players post online videos of their holidays, rather than return to pre-season having been “bladdered for four weeks”.
He said: “We all make mistakes and I’ve made loads of them.
“Jesse Lingard doesn’t drink a lot. 20 years ago, somebody going on a holiday would have been bladdered for four weeks. What’s worse – a social media post where somebody’s having a bit of a joke, or getting bladdered for four weeks?
“You’d rather have your player being sober, probably training all day and having a joke with his mates.
“This is absolutely a lesser evil than we had 20 years ago when players would go off for five or six weeks and come back overweight.”