Joorabchian tears Man Utd legend Neville apart over Tevez criticism

Joe Williams
Gary Neville Man Utd

Businessman Kia Joorabchian has hit out at Gary Neville over his criticism of Carlos Tevez’s second season at Man Utd.

Tevez formed part of a deadly front three with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, which guided the Red Devils to two Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph in 2008.

The Argentine only scored five Premier League goals in his second campaign before leaving at the end of the season to join arch-rivals Man City for a reported £47m fee.

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And Neville recently recalled how “annoyed” his was by the way Tevez played and acted in his final year at the club, accusing him of “downing tools”.

Joorabchian, who represented Tevez during his time at Man Utd, has taken offence at Neville’s comments and tried to set the record straight on the Sky Sports’ The Football Show.

Joorabchian started the debate: “I’m here because I feel that Gary said something a couple of days ago and I feel that he was absolutely wrong. I often let things go but I think that when you go after somebody and you’ve made a lot of wrong and incorrect statements, then by letting it go will not do the benefit to the public listening to fake information.

“Gary mentioned about Carlos down tooling and his professionalism and he also mentioned that there were problems in his second year about people talking in his ear. So generally I have three comments and three questions for Gary.

“In terms of the people who he claims were talking into his ear, I’d like to know who he thinks were talking into his ear and what he thinks they were saying in his ear because unless he was hacking them or taping him then it was impossible for him to know what they were apparently saying in his ear.

“And I’d like to know who those people are. Furthermore, I must apologise as I gave an incorrect stat in my previous interview, I said Gary played four times in that year, he actually played one time in Carlos’ first year because unfortunately Gary was injured.

“And he played ten minutes against Roma. When Gary made a comparison between year one and year two, Gary could not have known too much about year one because he played ten minutes that year, not four times as I incorrectly said.

“He was mostly on the treatment table and that’s the actual year he said good things about Carlos. And finally I think that Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the greatest managers of my time and irrespective of what side of the hairdryer you were on, you had nothing but respect for the man.

“The one thing that I think I learnt in my time about Sir Alex was that he had his finger to the pulse all the time and he was a strong coach, he knew what his players were doing in the training round, off the training ground, at home, on a week day.

“And by Gary making those comments about the second year he’s somewhat questioning whether Sir Alex had his finger to the pulse because Sir Alex picked Carlos 51 times during that season of 2008/09, 51 times. He picked Rooney 49 times, Berbatov 44 times and Gary himself only played 29 in that season.

“In those moments Carlos played 51 games, picked by Sir Alex, 15 goals, seven assists. Berbatov 14 goals, 11 assists and Rooney 20 goals and 13 assists.

“Sir Alex would not have picked someone 51 times a season if they were down tooling or being unprofessional unless Gary thinks Sir Alex took his eye off the ball.”

Neville responded: “I’ll answer the three questions one by one, Kia. I mean in terms of the first one, the period between Christmas and Easter when it was quite clear that Manchester United were not going to exercise the option.

“There is no doubt that Carlos in those last few months of the season became disinterested, distracted, he wasn’t the same around the training pitch.

“He went into more of a sulky mood because he was disappointed that the club weren’t signing him. He…”

*Jamie Carragher comes on screen with a huge bag of toffee popcorn*

Neville laughs and says to Carragher: “You’re a mad man, you.

“This is serious stuff and you’re messing around.”

Back to the serious business, Neville added: “Kia you’ll know Carlos was definitely not the same player over the last four months, five months of the season. I mean I don’t know what stats you’re referring to there but ultimately what I did, I looked at the Premier League and the Champions League stats of Carlos over the two seasons.

“And it refers to the third question, I don’t know if we’ve got them, but you can see Carlos in the first season. I said two days ago that Carlos was amongst the best front three that I’ve ever seen in the Premier League.”

*Sky Sports bring Carlos Tevez’s Premier League stats up on screen from his time at Manchester United*

Neville continued: “So these are the stats in the Premier League from 2007/08 and 2008/09. You can see in the first six months there that Carlos played 18 times for Man Utd, starts, and seven goals.

“In the next six months he had 13 starts and seven goals, but if you look at the last six months, Carlos to be fair only played 18 times in the last year which was the same as his first six months in its entirety and he only had five goals in his second season in the Premier League.

“So Carlos’ performances in the second year dipped and the same in the Champions League, he scored a lot less goals. Look, my view is that there were definitely other complications that Carlos had in terms of the club not triggering his option, you’ve admitted that.

“And I saw Carlos in the last five months at the club, and I don’t need to do my research on this, I was watching the boy. And the thing about Carlos is: Carlos was a warrior on the football pitch, in the first 12 months at Man Utd I’ve never seen anything more brilliant than him with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“However, in the last four months the drop in his performances, maybe because he was not being taken on by the club, was alarming.

“When I refer to the people in his ear, it was true that Carlos was owned by third-party ownership and at that time it was legal, obviously, there was no problem with it but I think Manchester City paid £50m for Carlos Tevez to his owners.

“Whereas Manchester United were paying £25m, or were supposed to pay £25m I believe for the option. I just felt at that moment in time there was so much distraction around the third-party ownership, there was so much noise about how much about how much the third-part owners were going to make.

“These were the things that were in Carlos’ ear all the time, the club weren’t exercising his option, he wasn’t being picked in the team as much because he was substituted. Those appearances that you gave, a lot of them were substitute appearances, so he was definitely a different person in that last five months at the club.

“Now, what I would say is that downed tools might be a little bit crass but Carlos was distracted, he was different, he certainly wasn’t anywhere near the level in that last four months at the club. You must accept that?”

Joorabchian hit back: “Well I think the way I’m going to answer that question is that Sir Alex himself said when he signed Carlos that I’m going to sign this boy because he’s going to give me 15 goals every season across all competitions. And of course when he signed Berbatov, the club decided to sign Berbatov rather than Carlos.

“When he signed Berbatov, Carlos at the very beginning of the season put it to the side. Although I have to say that the season grew and things got deeper and deeper. Carlos was more and more involved. He was picked 51 times, he appeared 12 times in the Champions League that season and the season before he had appeared 12 times in the Champions League.

“He had played probably his best football because at West Ham at the very beginning under Alan (Pardew) he had played on the wings and Sir Alex knew exactly how to get the best out of him.

“And he did manage to get the best out of Carlos. And I think saying that he was distracted, I don’t think Carlos was distracted. Carlos towards the end of the season when he scored that goal, ran over to the touchline, that famous moment where he put his hands to his ears.

“He wasn’t distracted, he was very focused, more than anything I think he was trying harder and harder to try and prove to Sir Alex that he was going to make a mistake by not signing him.

“But when the deadline passed and Sir Alex didn’t sign him and we arrived at Rome for the Champions League final, I think that was the moment that broke into Carlos, when he was benched for the Champions League final and then he came on as a sub, and you guys eventually ended up losing that.

“That was what broke his back but I don’t think that it’s fair to say that his entire second season he was down tooling and he was not professional and on the treatment table.

“Carlos missed three games to injury, Carlos hated the treatment table, there are famous moments where Carlos had massive fights with doctors because he refused.

“Jose Mourinho saw a game of Carlos in Sao Paulo in 2005 when Carlos had an ankle three times the size and the doctors wrote him a letter saying if you go on this pitch you could officially end your entire career.

“Carlos is not a guy that sits on the treatment table, Carlos is not a guy that is unprofessional or down tooling. I can understand what you’re saying in terms of maybe Carlos was distracted in his mind because of he wanted to stay and hadn’t had his contract sorted out but that would go for any player.

“If Man Utd had exercised the option at any point in time there was nothing the third-party owners could have done. In fact the Premier League made very clear that situation that the third-party ownership had no say whatsoever in Carlos’ future whilst he was a Man Utd player.

“They had a fixed price and Man Utd could have exercised that option right until the day that option expired. Unfortunately I can’t quote numbers but it was considerably less than what was ultimately paid but it was Man Utd’s choice and not Carlos’.”

We had planned this to be a full transcript but these guys can really talk…


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