Recalling when Gary Neville ripped Agbonlahor to shreds with six brutal words on MNF
Gary Neville has done a brilliant job of transitioning from player to pundit since hanging up his boots, successfully establishing himself as one of the great media personalities in football.
It wasn’t always like that, though. Long before the mini-retirements, interviews with major sports stars and iconic Sky Sports clips, the former Manchester United captain cut an awkward figure in the studio which one flashback to is enough to make you cringe hard.
From ill-fitting suits to awkward moments where he stumbled over his words in front of players and managers, it took Neville time and hard work to climb the mountain and establish himself. But we think we might just have found the exact moment where it all changed.
The moment when he went from retired footballer in midlife crisis on the telly, to self-appointed bossman and outspoken king of the Premier League. That moment is built on hilariously tearing down Gabriel Agbonlahor with only six words.
Agbonlahor will tell you him and Neville aren’t too different. Two ex-professionals who have carved out immensely respectable careers in the media after brilliant and memorable careers on the pitch.
That’s what Agbonlahor will tell you. The truth is that they were streets apart on the pitch, and they’re streets apart again in media and broadcasting. While Neville has developed into arguably Sky Sports’ greatest asset, Agbonlahor spends his days sat behind a microphone on talkSPORT spouting piles upon piles of baseless, uninformed garbage merely to get attention.
That comes after a career that ended with his greatest honour being the Premier League Player of the Month award for November 2007. When you learn that, you can understand why he has such profound knowledge to bring to the table on talkSPORT, where football opinion and debate is truly at its highest standard.
We’re obviously joking, but knowing all that makes it even funnier watching Neville ripping Agbonlahor to shreds on Monday Night Football in 2015.
“8 touches…and 2 of them are kick-offs!”
Gary Neville takes a look at Gabby Agbonlahor's touch map against Tottenham. pic.twitter.com/algfEf2mRL
— Sky Sports Retro (@SkySportsRetro) September 6, 2023
The pause before he delivers the killer blow, ‘and two of them were kick-offs’ is absolutely sensational. Perfect comedic timing. Had Jamie Carragher and Frank Lampard losing it on live television.
This isn’t secondary school, Gary. Trying to get a laugh out of your pals and showing off in front of the rest of the class. We’ve all been there. Teacher pulls you up on it and makes you look a fool. Except in this case, the teacher – Ed Chamberlin – can’t help but let out a little chuckle himself.
We’d say we feel sorry for Agbonlahor, but given the way he loves to destroy player after player and spew garbage ‘hot takes’ on the radio, we’re struggling for sympathy. And besides, it’s an all-timer piece of MNF content. Sensational stuff.
Best part is Neville’s overarching point was that Aston Villa weren’t doing enough to get the ball into Agbonlahor, but in doing so he unintentionally produced the most deadpan character assassination possible. And besides, when you’ve only had eight touches in one half of football, you have to shoulder some of the blame.
All is fair in love and war, Gabby.
By Mitch Wilks