Manchester United legend Gary Neville has claimed that his former team were more professional than bitter rivals Liverpool during the 1990s, labelling the Reds’ senior players as ‘big drinkers’.
Neville came through United’s youth ranks to play a key role for the Manchester club during the decade, helping iconic manager Sir Alex Ferguson win five Premier League titles, three FA Cups and one Champions League between 1992 and the turn of the millennium.
Needless to say, the 1990s was a hugely successful period for Neville, who went on to make over 400 appearances for the club, and the England defender is convinced that his team-mates’ professionalism gave them an edge over Liverpool.
The Anfield club, having previously dominated domestic football during the 1970s and 1980s, slumped into a spell of poor form and failed to lift a single top-flight title over that period.
Neville believes Liverpool struggled because of their lack of professionalism, claiming that a group of their senior players had been known to visit nightclubs until as late as 5am during the season.
Gary Neville claims Man United were more professional than rivals Liverpool during the 1990s
The Red Devils won an enviable portfolio of trophies during the 1990s under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Pictured in 1997: (Back row, left to right) Eric Cantona, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane; (Front) Phil Neville
Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler (left) Steve McManaman (centre) and Jamie Redknapp (right) wearing matching white suits ahead of the 1996 FA Cup final against Manchester United
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Speaking to the Stick to Football podcast, provided by Sky Bet, the right-back said: ‘What we came into [at Man United], at that time [1992-93], Liverpool had a talented group of players, and I don’t dismiss that some of them were as talented as we were, like [Steve] McManaman, [Robbie] Fowler, Jamie Redknapp, and a couple of others.
‘Their senior players were big drinkers. They had a talented group at Liverpool and there was one year where they were pushing us for the title, in 1995-96, but our senior players, I felt, were more professional and were more talented.
‘To me, there wasn’t an excess [of drinking], where we put games in doubt, but I remember seeing Liverpool lads at Cheerleaders [a nightclub].
‘Cheerleaders on a Wednesday night, I went a couple of times and I remember the Liverpool lads were in the corner. The United lads would go home around 1am but the Liverpool lads were [there until] 4am, 5am on a Wednesday.’
Liverpool finished third in the Premier League during the 1995-96 campaign, picking up 71 points compared to United’s 82.
Neville was involved in several tempestuous derbies against Liverpool during his United career
Manchester United’s stars celebrate winning the Treble under Ferguson in the 1998-99 season
Newcastle, who was managed by Kevin Keegan at the time, were the Red Devils’ closest title rival that season, ending on 78 points in second.
Neville was shown the Old Trafford ropes in 1992 by the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin and Eric Cantona.
The following season, former United captain Roy Keane, who joined former team-mate Neville on the podcast, arrived at Old Trafford and became another vital leader in the dressing room.
Gary Neville was speaking on the was speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, brought to you by Sky Bet.