Gary Neville has taken a swipe at Manchester United fans protesting the ownership of the Glazer family, describing them as “muppets”.
Neville also took aim at former United player John O’Kane, who defended the fans involved in the protests.
The supporters’ group Glazers Out Movement (GOM) last month released an open letter posing ‘five key questions’ to the Glazers, with O’Kane on the list of signatories.
O’Kane started his career at United in the early 1990s but did not enjoy the same success as Neville and the ‘Class of ‘92’. He left in 1998 after making 10 first-team appearances, carving out a career for himself with Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Blackpool and Hyde United.
From muppets on here who think something trending or an ex player having a go will move the owners out of the club !Owners don’t leave clubs unless they want to or are being hurt commercially . A bit of noise on here isn’t going to do a jot! It’s like a fly attacking an elephant!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) August 11, 2019
O’Kane replied to Neville’s tweet, saying: “#GlazersOut fans are trying to create awareness of what the owners are doing to #MUFC simple, we know they won't sell, but to do nothing and let the owners ruin this great club is not on. Calling out a few ex players for "having a go" I couldn't give a f*ck what you think of me”.
Clearly annoyed by the response, Neville’s next reply was more personal. He mockingly referred to O’Kane as a “Twitter warrior [who] represents the fans with all his heart”, after claiming that he had “cowered at the thought of giving his all for the club and was unprofessional whilst wearing the shirt”.
Some United fans may be surprised at Neville’s comments given the almost universal unpopularity of the Glazers since their leveraged purchase of the club in 2005.
The deal was financed with loans that immediately loaded more than half a billion pounds’ worth of debt onto the club, while the family are reported to have taken more than £1 billion from United in their near 15 years of ownership.
Neville has now moved into a behind-the-scenes role himself at League Two side Salford City. He, along with several former United team-mates and businessman Peter Lim, has helped bankroll Salford’s rise through the non-league pyramid into the EFL. They were promoted through the play-offs last season after finishing third in the National League.
With other owners at Premier League rivals like Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham investing in their sides and bringing on-field success in recent years, Neville’s comments are unlikely to deter protesters.