He is one of the most impartial and incisive football pundits on television but, away from the Sky Sports cameras, Gary Neville still bleeds Manchester United and, for the rabid red in him, there is considerable discomfort at the nightmare scenario that could yet unfold this season.
“Oh no, make no mistake about it, this could be the season from hell,” he says. “I mean, Manchester City have won the title [by 19 points], they’ve won two trophies. If Liverpool now win the European Cup and Chelsea beat United in the FA Cup final, to be honest I might go travelling for a year to somewhere where there’s no Wi-Fi or phone signal.
“Actually, there might be a few million United fans joining me. What date’s the Champions League final? May 26th? We’ve all got a charter booked for the 27th of May. There will be a million flights booked out of Manchester to the forests of the Amazon. We’re out of here, we’re gone.
“Let’s just live in hope that Manchester United win the FA Cup and Ronaldo – our friend and boy Cristiano – turns up, scores a lovely little hat-trick, puts us out of our misery in the second half and lets us relax … nah, I mean Liverpool have done brilliantly to get to a Champions League final. I just don’t want them to win it!”
Neville is sat in a seat in the stands at the Peninsula stadium, home of Salford City, the non-league club he co-owns with Singapore businessman Peter Lim and his former United team-mates, brother Phil, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, the so-called “Class of 92”.