Man Utd legend Neville: Arsenal flop Reyes lacked Ronaldo mentality

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has spoken of his infamous clash with Arsenal flop Jose Antonio Reyes.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has spoken of his infamous clash with Arsenal flop Jose Antonio Reyes.

In his new book, 'Red', Neville recalled: "My job was to nullify the threat of Antonio Reyes.

"My thought process was simple: ‘He’s a great player, a pacy, tricky winger. If I stand off him and don’t tackle, he’ll run rings round me and make me look an idiot. He’s got more skill, he’s got more speed. I might have more stamina but that’s not going to be much good if he’s ripped me apart in the first 30 minutes.’

"You are like a boxer trying to work out whether to jab and run or get in close. And while I could try to intercept, using my experience and positional abilities, I knew that above all I had to get tight, get physical. I had to makes Reyes lose his confidence.

"If there were question-marks about him — justified by what turned out to be a short spell in England — they were over his temperament. It was my job to expose that weakness.

"Some say I crossed the line. How? Reyes was subbed after 70 minutes and it wasn’t for his own protection. He didn’t have a mark on his leg. Yes, there was a time in the first half when he knocked the ball through my legs and, chasing back, I went through him and tripped him. It wasn’t pretty but it’s something any defender does dozens of times a season: you concede a foul high up the pitch rather than risk worse trouble around the penalty area.

"People said we ganged up on Reyes but my brother Phil’s collision with him was a nothing tackle. He got there a bit late and pushed Reyes off the ball, which wasn’t hard to do.

"I’m not going to deny an element of intimidation but only because Reyes wasn’t tough enough to take it. Cristiano Ronaldo would get that sort of treatment all the time, until defenders realised it didn’t put him off, it just made him more determined. That sort of courage is part of being a great player.

"Reyes couldn’t handle the rough and tumble, which is why Wenger ended up selling him back to Spain. He had the skills but he fell short of being a top player because he couldn’t take a bit of stick."

 
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