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Gary Neville - top pundit

Once upon a time Gary Neville was reviled around the country as a symbol of Manchester United. The former England left-back was (wrongly) derided for being sub-standard, and his brother Phil was made the scapegoat for one of England's many embarrassing tournament displays.

So you might say that he is uniquely placed to understand and criticise the mentality of England fans and the press, who always look to one man to save us all, and immediately crucify him if he doesn't perform. Meanwhile the team's fundamental problems – keeping the ball, team spirit, keeping the ball and, um, passing the ball to one another – are glossed over. Read what Neville has to say on the matter and nod, because he is right.

'What we should be talking about is the spine of a team that has no mobility and can't keep the ball,' he wrote in the Mail on Sunday. 'The real issue is that the spine of the team is not good enough.

'When I look at it coldly, a team that has John Terry, Gary Cahill, Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Darren Bent and Rooney in its central positions is nowhere near good enough to take on the major nations such as Spain.

'I'm not having a go at individuals; there are some very good players among those names. [But] Rooney aside, there is hardly any pace, very little invention and hardly any rotation of positions. Compare that with the spine of Spain: Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, David Villa and Fernando Llorente.'

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