Gary Neville blasted Manchester United’s performance in its 1-1 Premier League draw with Newcastle on Monday, calling the Red Devils a “bunch of whingebags” as Cristiano Ronaldo and company endured a frustrating night at St James’ Park.
Edinson Cavani’s second-half finish cancelled out Allan Saint-Maximin’s superb first-half strike to ensure Ralf Rangnick maintained his unbeaten start to life at the Red Devils, but the visitors found themselves often mired in post-Christmas lethargy following a two-week-plus COVID-19-enforced break from action.
Another point-saving performance from goalkeeper David de Gea between the posts was the greatest highlight of an otherwise uninspired group showcase against their relegation-embattled hosts — and ex-United defender Neville did not pull his punches when dissecting his former club’s overall mentality.
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Gary Neville calls Man United whingebags
You could feel the frustration build for Neville as he talked. He started out slow, clearly not wanting to go too hard on the group, but as he further assessed the situation, it was easy for the viewer to see him slowly lose his ability to hold back (watch video below).
“There’s no pressing, there’s no urgency,” the former England right back stated on Sky Sports at the interval. “The basics of the game, every single battle, they’ve lost. That’s been a really poor performance. There’s not one single thing that’s gone right as a team. There’s not one single player who can go in at halftime and say that they’ve done their jobs, or even done themselves justice.
Then he let it fly. “They’re a bunch of whingebags. Watch them on that pitch. Arms in the air, complaining about everything. They got the last manager the sack [and] they’ll get a lot of managers the sack, that lot, if they carry on like that.”
That’s where his co-hosts stepped in, joking that it would be tough for Rangnick to get the sack after just three matches in charge, but Neville’s point had been made: This is as much on the players as it is on the boss.
Neville continued after the final whistle, criticizing Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes for departing the pitch immediately following the final whistle.
“I think there’s something wrong in there,” he said. “You cannot run off the pitch at the end of the game and you have to clap the fans. It’s devastating for the younger players if those two best players in the team are looking at the others like you aren’t good enough.”
What is a ‘whingebag’?
While most certainly not an official word with an official definition, Wikipedia describes the term as “a peevish complainer.” The British term ‘whinging,’ formally defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “to complain fretfully.”
Essentially, Neville was calling the Manchester United players crybabies, and it wasn’t horribly undeserved.
The players were often seen complaining excessively about minor foul calls, and were even caught gesticulating at each other in frustration.
What Ralf Rangnick said
Before the game, Rangnick had publicly stressed the need for good body language, which brought added attention to the players and their demeanor. This likely contributed to Neville’s comments, as additional focus was given to how the players acted off the ball and during stoppages.
Reflecting on his side’s performance after the match, Rangnick pointed to their inability to dominate the game on a physical level, adding that he was less than impressed with the overall game.
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“Today was not a question of body language, it was a question of body physicality,” he told Sky Sports. “If you want to be competitive here you have to get physical and this was not the case in many parts of the game.”
“I didn’t like the performance at all. Today we didn’t control the game apart from a few moments. It’s all about energy, physicality and who wins the second balls. In all those areas we weren’t at our best. The good thing is we got a point but the performance needs to be better.”
Ronaldo, often known as a demonstrative player during good times and bad, struggled mightily up front. He had hardly a touch of the ball in the first half, and took his frustrations out on both his teammates and the referees.
The star forward was seen gesturing wildly towards other Manchester United players throughout the game, clearly frustrated at his lack of involvement, scenes that seemed to bother Neville. He wasn’t the only one, however, with Bruno Fernandes booked for dissent past the hour mark, and a number of other United teammates seen expressing extra frustration with the referee, whose performance didn’t seem to merit the vitriol he was forced to endure.
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The most notable play involving Ronaldo all night was his 57th minute foul on Ryan Fraser, where he was late lunging for the ball and bulldozed the Newcastle midfielder, earning a yellow card for his efforts. The NBC crew complained that the yellow was harsh because Ronaldo was going for the ball, but others around Premier League punditry wondered if he was lucky not to receive harsher punishment.
The Portuguese superstar managed just two shots all evening, missing with one and seeing the other blocked. Manchester United as a whole put together just four total shots on target, with two coming on the play that saw Edinson Cavani score United’s equalizer.
With a draw on Tyneside, United remain seventh in the Premier League and trail rivals and table-toppers Manchester City by a whopping 19 points.