Following his tumultuous and shortly-lived spell as Valencia manager, the response to news Gary Neville would be returning to the Sky Sports punditry team for the new Premier League season was decidedly mixed.
For some, it was cause for celebration, seeing the return of one of the most insightful analysts the game has ever seen on TV as a positive. For others, it was somewhat of a backwards step, reckoning that G-Nev’s failure over in La Liga meant his words would now carry less weight when critiquing tactics or other gaffers.
Well listen up haters: Phil Neville - still coaching at Valencia and about to appear in the second series of BBC’s Class of ’92: Out of Their League - has defended his brother’s second coming, claiming his experience over the past six months actually makes him “a better pundit”.
“It was the logical move back,” Phil told ShortList this week. “As he was during his playing career, he was outstanding at what he did on Sky Sports. Some people are saying ‘oh, how can you go back to Sky Sports now?’ – he actually goes back with more credibility, because he’s stood on the touchline as a manager against Barcelona, against Real Madrid, he’s managed a team in the Champions League and the Europa League.
“The last time he was on Sky, these same people will have said 'How do you know? You’ve never stood on the line'. Well he’s done it, he’s experienced wins, he’s experienced great performances, bad ones too, he’s experienced being sacked. So now he can sympathise with the managers even more.
"He’s in a better position to be a better pundit now than he’s ever been. There aren’t many pundits capable of reading the game as he can."
Pressed on whether Gary would go into management again next summer, Phil wasn’t so sure:
“I don’t know. I’d say he’s more long term with Sky now. But then I didn’t know he was going to go into coaching before he took the Valencia job. Opportunities come up sometimes and you’ve got to grab them."
An indication that Phil would be happy to take the Valencia managerial seat himself one day? Watch this space.
Read more from Phil’s interview with ShortList.com later this week. Class of ‘92: Out of Their League returns to BBC One on 25 August