Gary Neville says that Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn’t give Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo the Man Utd captaincy as he predicted both players would “kick off”.
Neville had doubts about his own captaincy after feeling his level had dropped below the level of the rest of the first-team squad following a bad injury.
But when he approached Ferguson about the possibility of passing the armband on, Neville was told in no uncertain terms that he would remain skipper.
“I got injured a year after taking the captaincy and that became really difficult for me,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“It felt as though I wasn’t contributing like a captain should be for my last four years. I actually went to see Sir Alex in pre-season about the third year I was captain.
“We had an amazing team: Ronaldo, Rooney, [Carlos] Tevez, [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes, [Michael] Carrick, [Rio] Ferdinand, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Patrice] Evra, [Edwin] van der Sar… there were some great personalities and players in that group.
“I went over to Sir Alex walking onto the training pitch and said, ‘I don’t feel worthy of keeping the captaincy anymore. This team is to a level I can’t compete at’.
“He said, ‘You’ll keep that f-ing armband, son.’ The reason he gave me: ‘You and Giggs will rotate it. If I give it to Ronaldo, Rooney will kick off. If I give it to Rooney, Ronaldo will kick off. If I give it to Vidic, Ferdinand won’t be happy’.
“So literally I think me and Giggsy kept it for three or four years beyond that just purely because of the fact the camaraderie in the dressing room. We were the policemen if you like, the older statesmen.
“Sir Alex wanted to make sure the team came first. Even though I felt unworthy as a captain at that stage.”