Gary Neville has savaged the sanitised, carefully curated world of footballers on social media and told players to ‘sack the PR managers’.
The Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United right-back expressed his deep frustration at the lack of authenticity of players online.
Many stars have teams of people running their Twitter and Instagram accounts, carefully crafting their output while the individuals themselves have nothing to do with it.
Bruno Fernandes missed his penalty late in the game against Aston Villa and apologised for it
Fernandes had a carefully constructed apology put out and Neville wants players to be authentic online rather than have PR managers running their accounts
Neville’s latest remarks came during a Q&A on Twitter when he was asked if players should really be apologising for mistakes such as missed penalties after matches.
And in the wake of Bruno Fernandes’ lengthy lament on Instagram having blazed over his spot kick at the death against Villa, Neville signalled his intent to call out the PR men.
He wrote: ‘It’s embarrassing! They need to sack their PR people , speak with some authenticity and get on with it.
‘I’m going to go big on this in the next few weeks . They’ve all got these comms managers, that are creating personalities that don’t exist!’
He then added: ‘The apology culture that’s engulfing football would be ok if it came from a genuine place. However, more often than not, it’s a smokescreen and diversion tactic designed to mask crap performance by experts!! Lose a game = crisis comms meet! How do we spin this one our way?’
‘Final message of the day on the apology stuff and strong advice to players. If you’re going to say something after a game, go on TV ( I accept players don’t always want to) or post a video on social media where everyone can see it is you.’
Fernandes blasted his penalty over the bar when he could have earned United a point
It is not known how much Fernandes had to do with the writing or posting of his 187-word apology online but his Instagram story read: ‘Nobody is more frustrated or disappointed than me for missing the penalty and the consequent defeat.
‘I’ve always assumed my responsibilities and I’ve always embraced them under pressure in moments like this. Today, I failed, but I took a step forward and embraced the challenge with the same ambition and responsibility as when, on the many other occasions, the ball ended up in the back of the net.
‘Criticism is contrasting and opinions are a big part of football. I’ve learned to live with it, even using them to drive me on, and I consider it a very big part of my commitment to never stop trying to improve and become the best player I can possibly be, for me and the team.
‘Today, I once again took the responsibility given to me when I joined United and I will take it again without fear or dread whenever called upon.
Fernandes trudged off at Old Trafford having skied his attempt but said he will take them again
It is not known whether Fernandes wrote the apology himself or had a PR team put it together
‘The most important thing for me is to win together and I’ll always do everything I can to help my team-mates and the club be the best we can be.
‘Thank you for all of the support after the final whistle! Hearing you chanting my name in the stadium was very emotional. I will come back stronger for me, because these are the standards I hold myself to but also for my team-mates and fans who have always supported.’
This is not the first time Neville has called out players for lacking authenticity online.
Earlier this year, a number of England players posted near-identical messages following a win over Albania.
Jesse Lingard wrote: ‘Job done. We go again Wednesday’, while Mason Mount’s profile shared: ‘Job done, looking forward to Wednesday!’
Neville then tweeted: ‘Reading some of the England players tweets last night. Do any of the lads post themselves? They don’t sound authentic. It’s a real shame they don’t manage their personal connection to the fans and media.’
Jesse Lingard toasted ‘job done’ on social media after another key win for the Three Lions earlier in the year
Mason Mount produced a near identical tweet as he reacted to the win against Albania
Harry Maguire focused on ‘two wins from two’ ahead of a crucial game against Poland next
Man City’s Phil Foden also posted about ‘two from two’ as fans saw a pattern in squad tweets
Gary Neville was left frustrated at the similar tweets, feeling it shows a lack of authenticity
Following his latest criticism of the PR flood into football, a number of fans agreed with Neville.
One wrote: ‘Gary, any idea who told players it was a good idea to post action pics of themselves after matches in which they’ve been beaten and not got a kick, accompanied by some awful phrase like ‘We go again’??’
Another posted: ‘It creates a precedent that when not followed by others, leaves them open to suggesting they ‘don’t care’ or aren’t engaging with fans. It’s ridiculous.’
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) is accustomed to being the penalty taker at his previous clubs
It seems the lack of discernable personality in the online presence of many players has struck a chord with supporters and Fernandes is just the latest example of a growing apology culture.
Prior to taking the penalty, Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez tried to play mind games, loudly telling Cristiano Ronaldo that he should be the one taking it.
Fernandes’ position as the team’s penalty taker has come under the spotlight since his Portugal team-mate rejoined United, as the legendary striker is used to having the responsibility.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer denied that Martinez’s mind games impacted Fernandes and it will be fascinating to see whether the midfielder remains on spot kicks, as his apology intimated he would.