Gary Neville strongly rejects claims of English World Cup over-confidence in a feisty Twitter debate
Gary Neville has dismissed claims that England's 'arrogance' ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Croatia ultimately led to their downfall in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow.
Croatia captain Luka Modric and several of his team-mates suggested the euphoria whipped up in England as their 'Football's Coming Home' excitement reached fever pitch provided the ultimate motivation for the side that will play France in Sunday's World Cup final.
Yet former England and Manchester United defender Neville has rejected those claims, as he suggested footballers are not motivated by such trivialities when they are in the heat of a battle in the biggest matches of their careers.
Responding to claims from reporter Guillem Ballague that Croatia's players were lifted by what they perceived to be English over-confidence from England's media and supporters, Neville offered these responses:
What was in their minds in the first half when not playing well?Did the Croatian manager switch his phone on at half time and show them some memes of coming home? It’s a complete nonsense to think that a footballer is really thinking about uncontrollable elements during a game .— Gary Neville (@GNev2) July 14, 2018
I don’t know anyone who also saw the memes mocking us the day after defeat who didn’t find them funny. Did you see the Croatian front and back pages the day of the game ?— Gary Neville (@GNev2) July 14, 2018
Did the Colombians and Swedish players think the same ? It had no bearing on the result at all. How can you stop 25m people enjoying themselves , singing songs , getting swept away with the pride . You want all of them to stop ? Why it didn’t impact a football result .— Gary Neville (@GNev2) July 14, 2018
Former England striker Stan Collymore also joined the debate, with Neville suggesting the notion that Manchester United were inspired to win the 1999 Champions League final as their players had seen the ribbons of opponents Bayern Munich placed on the trophy seconds before United scored two late goals was nonsense:
They are just words Stan. Is switching off on the second goal anything to do with the media , is missing 2 big chances in the first half anything to do with the media . Folklore suggests in 99 we came back because we saw the BM ribbons going on the trophy! Nonsense https://t.co/D6lKtpx10A— Gary Neville (@GNev2) July 14, 2018
Neville's Twitter exchanges add to the ongoing debate over the excitement that was whipped up in England as their team unexpectedly progressed to the last four of the World Cup, with former Ireland captain Roy Keane among those who have suggested English fans and their media pundits were misguided in their believe that football was 'coming home' at this summer's World Cup.