MNF Retro: Gary Neville says Tottenham are modern-day Leeds United
Speaking on a special MNF Retro, Gary Neville claimed Tottenham are the modern-day Leeds United and also said Manchester United’s rivalry with Leeds was “more brutal” than with Liverpool.
With professional football suspended until April 30, Neville and Jamie Carragher were in their usual Monday Night Football roles but with a difference as they ran their eye over Leeds United’s remarkable 4-3 win over Liverpool from the 2000/01 campaign – a game in which Carragher played full-back for the Reds and Mark Viduka scored all four Leeds goals.
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Managed by David O’Leary, Leeds went into that season as a Premier League heavyweight having finished third the previous year. They maintained their elite form during the 2000/01 season, culminating in a fourth-placed Premier League finish and a memorable run in the Champions League, where they were eliminated by Valencia at the semi-final stage.
Despite that successful period, Leeds failed to win a major honour as they were unable to turn impressive results and performances into trophies. Now in the Sky Bet Championship but on the verge of promotion, it’s been 28 years since the club landed a major trophy.
When analysing that famous win over Liverpool, Neville, who played for the all-conquering Manchester United team of that era, said he saw similarities between Leeds and the current Tottenham side, who have also struggled to turn title challenges into major honours.
“I think Tottenham are the modern equivalent of that Leeds team,” he said.
“Tottenham haven’t gone onto do what they should have done – maybe they should have won the league the year Leicester won it and could have won a Champions League with a little more luck.
“This Tottenham team is now coming to an end or has come to an end. Teams like Leeds caught you up but never went on to do it. There was something missing. Clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have had history to build on to win trophies, there’s a mentality within the club to win trophies. Leeds were trying to build that mentality during that period.
“You always felt Leeds were getting nearer and nearer – like Tottenham were getting nearer and nearer. And then you think, how are they going to get back? Leeds has always felt like a huge club. When I get asked what is a big club I always think of Leeds United. The feeling when you go and play football there is unbelievable – it’s different.”
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Neville also recounted his personal battles playing for Manchester United against Leeds, explaining the level of ferocity in the games between the two.
“It was brutal when we went to Leeds, even more brutal than going to Liverpool,” he said.
“The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United was huge but the rivalry with Leeds was almost a deep hatred. There’s a little bit of respect between United and Liverpool but with Leeds there was a real nastiness – like they would come onto the pitch if they could.”
Carragher added: “That season we won three trophies but there wasn’t much difference between us and Leeds – we finished just one place above them. Leeds are remembered as a nearly team.”
‘My biggest regret was turning down Liverpool’
One of the key players during Leeds’ successful period in the Premier League was Lee Bowyer.
But the current Charlton boss has admitted his regret at rejecting a transfer to Liverpool when a Leeds player.
The midfielder was close to moving to Anfield in 2002 after Gerard Houllier pushed hard to add Bowyer to his squad, with Carragher admitting his manager “loved” the way he played.
“I was very close [to joining Liverpool] – I was halfway through a medical but it just didn’t feel right for me at the time,” Bowyer told MNF Retro.
“That is my biggest regret in football not going to Liverpool. If I could’ve turned the clock back I would’ve gone.
“I knew my time was coming to an end at Leeds due to a few things behind the scenes that didn’t sit well with me so I knew it was my time to go. I thought doing another five years up north being a long way away from my family after doing six years at Leeds didn’t sit right but after all that I ended up going to Newcastle which is even further away, so it makes no sense! But at the time it just didn’t feel right.”
?️ "It was probably my biggest regret"
Lee Bowyer reveals how he turned down Liverpool, despite having a medical, as @Carra23 discusses how hard the Reds tried to sign him from Leeds
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Both Neville and Carragher were in agreement that Leeds underachieved in terms of winning honours during Bowyer’s period with the club.
When asked about the duo’s verdict, Bowyer said: “I would agree.
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