The football biography is not always the most salubrious of things; they sometimes reflect back on the worst times of a player’s career and then dedicate an inordinate amount of time on their one big success. This is not the case for Gary Neville’s ‘Red’, a player who may not have lit up the pitch in his day, but one whose trophy cabinet would make most professional footballers blush. ‘Red’ is a book packed with success stories, perhaps too much success! When was the last time you read a book in which a player rattles through a championship winning year in mere paragraphs because some of the other championship wins were more interesting!
Neville come across as a likable bloke, who may be opinionated, but keeps it straight. What is good from such a straight talking fellow is that he does not drag anyone through the mud. Just because you are telling home truths does not mean you have to be an idiot about it. Neville has good words to say about most people involved in his career, so some of the more entertaining parts of the novel centre on his disdain for FA members of staff from the past. It does feel a shame that he does not dish more dirt at times, but he has so many victories to talk through, he does not have the time.
Manchester United fans will love the book. Gary Neville was a consummate professional who bled for the club. However, even none Man U fans will enjoy it. The book reads like a highlights package of the past 20 years of Premiership Football; talk of Beckham being hit by a boot or Pizzagate are great memories for any listener of Radio 5 Live or TalkSport. The real issue is that so much happened to Neville that the book does not delve deep enough. It is a quick and fun read, but not a biography that will go down as a classic.