Phil Neville has lambasted David de Gea for his overly warm antics in the tunnel ahead of Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday.
The Spaniard was seen embracing fellow countryman Nacho Monreal in the tunnel prior to the clash at the Emirates.
On the pitch, De Gea found himself cruelly beaten by a deflected Granit Xhaka strike before seeing a Danny Welbeck header fly straight past him.
And Neville, speaking after the game, was quick to criticise the 26-year-old for not demonstrating more focus in the tunnel.
“I think [Nacho] Monreal’s going to a Christening there rather than a football game. I can’t imagine doing that to Martin Keown ten years ago in a tunnel at Highbury.
“I wouldn’t have given you the chance,” said Michael Keown in response.
“Listen, this is modern day and this is what players are like. As long as they do the business on the pitch… I hated it when the French players were like this with one another, the English players certainly didn’t do it.
“It doesn’t matter if you know them. You see each other in the bar afterwards. But before a game just concentrate in the tunnel.”
Neville is, of course, comparing De Gea’s tunnel antics with Roy Keane and Patrick Viera’s warrior-like exchanges at Highbury. This is indeed what the ‘older’ generation loves to do: any kind of behaviour that falls short of Keane’s stony aggression isn’t befitting of the football club at all, according to these people. Not like it was in the old days, is it, boys?
I see what Neville is getting at here, but such a view fails to consider the possibility that the nature of football rivalries evolve – that, funnily enough, people are more connected these days and perhaps less interested by intimidation tactics.