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07th Feb 2017

Arsenal fan branded ‘idiot’ by Gary Neville hits back at pundit

He makes an interesting point.

Mike Wright

Gary Neville has insights into football most don’t.

Since his teenage years he forged a stellar career over two decades at Manchester United under their most successful manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

In 2011 he left the game a highly-decorated and respected veteran before making the tricky transition to the commentary studio.

But unlike so many other ex-pros happy to phone it in with insipid, insight-free commentary, Neville shook up the cushy punditry profession.

He brought a level of analysis and eloquence that gave fans genuine insight into what was going on on the pitch. A feat for which the 41-year-old has rightly been given plaudits.

However there is one football insight that Neville arguably doesn’t possess: What it’s like to be an ordinary paying fan, who stumps up for ever-increasing ticket prices to support their team.

Still, that has not stopped him offering his views on fans when he feels they’ve crossed a line, as he did with some Arsenal fans’ reaction to the Chelsea defeat at the weekend.

During his commentary of the game Neville took aim at one fan after the camera picked up on him holding a ‘time to go’ sign and branded him ‘an idiot’. Then after the match he went on to defend Wenger saying he was doing a “great job”.

He said:

“Arsene Wenger’s biggest challenge is that he’s been there such a long time, and there’s always that sort of ‘grass is greener’ [attitude].

“If Arsene Wenger was Jurgen Klopp and he was currently above Manchester City, above Liverpool, above Manchester United that have spent nearly £150-200million between them, we’d be saying he’s doing a great job.”

The ex-defender then went on a tirade about how Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene outside Stamford Bridge were “embarrassing”.

Now the fan who made the sign, Kane Hopps, has come forward and hit back at the pundit’s comments.

The Mirror reports the 25-year-old estate agent has criticised Neville for not understanding what it’s like to be a paying fan.

Hopps said:

“I think it was a little bit outrageous that he called not just me but any going fan who pays their money to go and watch their team an idiot for having an opinion he might not agree with. It’s just not on.

“I don’t take it personally that he’s insulted me but for him to call a fan who has shown a fairly respectable banner – it’s not full of expletives – isn’t right.

“I’ve paid for that opinion, he’s paid to watch football and give his opinion. I pay money, I should be allowed to give my opinion.

“For him to sit on his high horse in his studio and call me an idiot in front of everyone, I don’t think it is on.

“I like the guy, I respect him as a pundit, that is why I’m a bit taken aback by it, especially as he has slated Wenger on a nightly basis as well.

“I think he has generally been good in his comments of Arsenal in the past but since he has been a manager at Valencia and come back it seems like his stance on managers has massively changed.

“And maybe because of his own failure he thinks twice about calling for managers to be sacked.”

The Arsenal fan said he was planning to get his sign out whether his team won, drew or lost as he felt even victory wouldn’t have meant his team could catch Chelsea up.

He added:

“I’ve been getting a lot of texts and tweets about it, my friends and family find it all quite funny, and my work colleagues are all laughing about it. My dad is a massive Arsenal fan and he comes with me and is onboard.

“Everyone I have spoken to agree with me, and think Neville is out of order.”