For years they were fierce opponents at the heart of one of English football’s most bitter rivalries. Now Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville are on the same team, sitting alongside each other in the Sky studio every Monday night to dissect and analyse the beautiful game. Alex Kay asked the questions ahead of next week’s big Monday Night Football debut.
Best of enemies: Carragher and Neville square up in their playing days... but now they're working together
Who’s going to win the title?
JAMIE CARRAGHER: Chelsea. I think Jose Mourinho will be the key to it all. What do you think Gary?
GARY NEVILLE: I think United. It’s not because I’m a United fan but I don’t see how you can win the League so comfortably, have the same group of players and not be favourites. I’m not saying they will definitely win the title — you can look like a fool predicting that in August — but they are favourites. Luckily I don’t have to predict much throughout the season as Monday Night Football is all about information, detail and analysis, not predictions and fantasy.
How will David Moyes fare at Man Utd?
NEVILLE: I think he will do a good job. The platform is there — the players and the finances — and he works hard. He’s learned his trade and this is the natural transition. It’s how it used to be in British football 20 years ago. It’s what used to happen at Liverpool.
Solid start: Moyes lifts the Community Shield trophy after Man United beat Wigan 2-0 at Wembley
CARRAGHER: It’s good for the country. The most successful club in the country haven’t just gone for Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, they have gone for a manager who has come through the football ranks.
NEVILLE: It’s the same with Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.
CARRAGHER: We don’t want all the managers at the top clubs being foreign. English managers must have a chance too.
Will Manuel Pellegrini give Man City a new style?
CARRAGHER: That’s obviously the idea and why they changed the manager. Roberto Mancini was very successful and you have to be careful changing managers just because you want to play a certain type of football. It’s not easy to be successful in the Premier League, I know that myself. Mancini won the FA Cup, the League and then almost the FA Cup again, yet he still got sacked so the club’s hierarchy have put themselves under a lot of pressure. But they want to see better football and I’m sure we’ll see it. They’ve still got to be successful, though.
New era: Pellegrini talks to the media alongside Spain international winger Jesus Navas
Will Mourinho work his magic?
NEVILLE: He’ll pay attention to the defensive side and make sure they are difficult to beat. He puts more emphasis on that than some managers. He didn’t get beaten at Stamford Bridge in the League in his first spell at the club. He’ll be protective of that. His teams were always hard to beat, powerful and strong, although this side might be slightly different because of the personnel. We’re wondering why he hasn’t gone for some more signings but it should be fascinating to see what happens there because he’s been successful everywhere he’s been.
CARRAGHER: Juan Mata, Oscar, Ramires and Eden Hazard aren’t what we might have considered in the past to be typical Mourinho players but they are all top players. And he had Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria at Real Madrid who are similar. Maybe you need a bit more strength in England but they weren’t exactly bullied in the Premier League last season.
Favourites: Mourinho is expected to deliver the title on his return to Chelsea
Which new signing excites you most?
CARRAGHER: Jesus Navas at City because he offers them something completely different. They have been narrow in the past so they’ve done something about it. We love to see proper wingers in this country.
NEVILLE: I’m excited to see Gerard Deulofeu at Everton. I watched him at the Under 21 Championship in the summer and he really impressed me. He’s different to the type of player you have seen at Everton in the past few years and it will be interesting to see how Roberto Martinez uses him and whether he copes with the physical aspect of the Premier League. I’m also looking forward to seeing Paulinho and Roberto Soldado at Tottenham. But we want some more players to arrive. I thought Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani would come to the Premier League but they’ve gone to France. I’m still waiting for three or four more top-grade players. We want blockbuster signings.
CARRAGHER: Yeah, a Gary Neville or a Jamie Carragher!
Record signing: Spain striker Roberto Soldado cost Spurs £26m from Valencia
Are England in a mess?
NEVILLE: The amount of British players available to us is just going down, isn’t it? It’s not just England, it’s Scotland and Ireland too. The Republic and Scotland used to have players at the top-six clubs — McGrath, Whelan, Brady, Keane, Houghton, Staunton, Dalglish — but not anymore.
CARRAGHER: Steven Caulker and Jonjo Shelvey have made moves to Cardiff and Swansea and that’s good. You don’t want them just filling up squads and getting the odd game here and there. Getting 40 games under your belt will do you the world of good. Credit to them for doing that. There’s not that many English players at the top clubs playing week in, week out.
NEVILLE: Something is going wrong in terms of development and getting players into the Premier League. We’ve got to do something to stop the rot. I was looking at a list of players signed by Premier League clubs this season — and I watch a lot of football — but a lot of them I haven’t heard of. What are we doing?
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CARRAGHER: You want the best foreign players and managers and you want to learn off them but there is a problem.
NEVILLE: We do, however, have Mourinho. He’s a massive player in world football, a huge character who will enhance the Premier League.
Does Mourinho wind people up?
CARRAGHER: You like him when he’s not talking about your club. Everyone tunes in on a Friday afternoon to hear what he says. He has that aura, charisma and charm and everyone seems to like him. You just get wound up when he turns on your team.
NEVILLE: After a game you might normally switch off but with Mourinho you make sure you hear what he’s got to say afterwards.
CARRAGHER: It was the same with Sir Alex Ferguson. So many managers talk in cliches but he always said something entertaining.
Mind games: Mourinho is sure to provide entertainment in front of the camera
How are the nerves ahead of your first Monday show?
CARRAGHER: I enjoyed the preview show but now the real stuff starts. I’m looking forward to it.
NEVILLE: Part of the appeal is that we were such rivals for so long. It’s what the show needed. I was conscious we had to keep moving it forward and I’m sure in another two years we’ll be saying ‘How can we change it again?’. You can’t become too comfortable, just like a successful football team. My first show two years ago was so nerve-racking but Jamie handled it a lot better than I did.
CARRAGHER: We’ll disagree but you have to be careful. You don’t just want us doing that for the sake of it or it becomes like a shouty radio phone-in. We have strong opinions on the game but a lot of the time we’ll agree. We’re passionate about the game and I’m sure that will come across over the season.
Talking tactics: Carragher makes his Monday Night Football debut alongside Neville next week