Gary Neville slammed Paul Pogba for an "embarrassing" handball that gave West Ham a penalty in Wednesday's Premier League clash with Manchester United. 

In first-half injury time, Pogba threw up his arms to block a fierce shot from Declan Rice inside the United box, allowing Michail Antonio to give the Hammers the lead from the spot. 

A VAR check was needed to award the spot-kick after referee Paul Tierney appeared to think the ball had struck Pogba in the face. 

Once the replays showed the shot had clearly hit the World Cup winner's hands, Neville said on Sky Sports: "He's in big, big trouble Paul Pogba. He's given away a penalty and pretended it's hit his head. 

"It's rubbish from him. Rubbish. And to think l thought a little bit sorry for him. I thought he had taken a whack in the head. Embarrassing. 

"It's a penalty. It's a no-brainer. It's a penalty. You don't do that." 

Fellow former United full-back Patrice Evra said Pogba would likely have been sporting a bloodied nose had the ball hit him, with Rice having put plenty behind the strike. 

"As soon as I see Paul stand up and his face was soaking [wet] and I didn't see any blood, I knew he'd used his hands," Evra said on Sky Sports. 

"It's a big, big mistake. Paul knew and we've got the VAR. 

"This is what I expected, as in the first 25 minutes, United were in total control but now they must find the urgency and passion. West Ham deserve to be in the lead." 

Gary Neville believes VAR officials are "frightened to death" to overturn on-field decisions following further controversial incidents in the Premier League on Thursday. 

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith was left fuming after Manchester United were awarded a penalty when Ezri Konsa was adjudged to have fouled Bruno Fernandes, who scored the opening goal from the spot in a 3-0 win following a VAR check. 

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was also stunned when Harry Kane appeared to be pushed over by Joshua King, but both referee Paul Tierney and VAR official Michael Oliver did not feel a foul should be awarded in a goalless draw. 

Former Manchester United and England defender Neville wants to see referees check pitch-side monitors rather than rely on verdicts from Stockley Park. 

"On VAR. Send the Ref to the screens for goodness sake! The "we know better" than Europe way is failing badly," Neville tweeted. 

"The officials off-site are frightened to death to overrule on-site colleagues." 

Villa boss Smith was left frustrated at the VAR call made in the defeat to United as they battle to avoid relegation from the top flight.

"It all changed round on the penalty. I can understand Jon [on-field referee Moss] getting it wrong on the pitch but VAR? I don't know what they're looking at. It's a disgraceful decision," he said.

"They've got a screen there they can go and look at, but they don't seem to be bothered now." 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United are still a fair way off being Premier League contenders.

Ahead of hosting Bournemouth on Saturday, United are on a 15-match unbeaten run and just three points behind third-placed Leicester City.

But amid hopes United could be close to challenging for the title once more, former captain Gary Neville warned they still had "work to do in the transfer market".

Solskjaer agreed with his former team-mate and said the transfer window would be key for United, who are 34 points adrift of newly crowned champions Liverpool.

"Gary's right in a lot of things he says and of course we cannot think we're there," the United manager told reporters.

"If you look at the table, we're nowhere near where we should be. Consistency has to be improved and we still have to improve on many aspects of the game.

"I don't know how many points we're behind the top two but Gary's right – there's definitely not going to be any complacency and thinking we've cracked it because we've so much to do.

"We can see improvements but, yes, we need to make one or two – or more – very good decisions. It's going to be an important summer, definitely."

With six league games remaining, United are just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the chase for a top-four finish.

Solskjaer expects that race to go down to the final day of the season, when United visit Leicester City.

"It's a short space of time and so many games in that time but I think it will go down to the last game," he said.

"You have got Chelsea against Wolves and us against Leicester – so it might be a three-point advantage for us or Leicester and it is still an important game.

"And I can't see the difference between us and Leicester being a lot more than three points either way and it is the same with Chelsea and Wolves.

"It's looking exciting, it's a short space of time and so many games in that time but I think it will go down to the last game."

Gary Neville has urged caution over the prospect of Dean Henderson becoming first-choice goalkeeper at Manchester United next season, despite David de Gea's indifferent form.

De Gea was again in the spotlight when his failure to stop Steven Bergwijn's shot allowed Tottenham to take the lead against United last Friday, though the Red Devils hit back to secure a draw from the game.

The Spain international overcame a shaky start at Old Trafford to become a cornerstone in the team during a period of transition, yet a slip in standards has raised questions over whether he should remain as number one.

Yet while Henderson has impressed in the Premier League during a loan spell at Sheffield United this season, former United defender Neville is wary of pushing the 23-year-old into the top job at Old Trafford too soon.

"David de Gea, for three or four years, was probably the best goalkeeper in the world - certainly the best in the Premier League," Neville said on Sky Sports.

"He was player of the year here and, in a very difficult period for Manchester United post Alex Ferguson, was a shining light. The only player really you would say could go into any other team in the Premier League, or the world. 

"Since that 2018 World Cup, though, he's had a real difficult time.

"What I don't buy into is that Dean Henderson at Sheffield United, obviously from Manchester United on loan, can go into that goal in front of the Stretford End and adapt to what the demands are of being a Manchester United goalkeeper. 

"It takes a special character to play in that goal. What I think David de Gea has done in the four or five year period before this last 18 months is build up a lot of credit, whereby he actually deserves a break, the idea he is given the opportunity to correct his form and get it back to where it needs to be.

"When a goalkeeper, or any player, goes through a rough patch it's mentally tough. He's at one of the biggest clubs in the world and the scrutiny is on him constantly.

"There is no escape at this club – and that is why I'd be a little bit cautious around Dean Henderson. That is a lonely old place out there to make a mistake if you're a Manchester United goalkeeper. With respect to Sheffield United, it's very different making a mistake for Sheffield United."

He continued: "To make that decision, which is a huge call, to say that Dean Henderson comes back to Old Trafford and is the number one, you're essentially dismissing David de Gea and what he's done for the club over the past seven or eight years.

"I would just urge caution on that, at this moment in time." 

Neville played with Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar during his own career, yet also saw up close how tough it can be as a goalkeeper at United.

"I've seen it before with players during my period at the club," the ex-England defender said. "We had two great goalkeepers during my time – Peter Schmeichel at the beginning and Edwin van der Sar at the end.  

"In between that, there were real challenges with goalkeepers.

"At times there were young goalkeepers who were talented but found it very difficult to cope with the scrutiny, plus the levels of concentration that are required."

Gary Neville says Manchester United only need "commitment" from Paul Pogba as his world-class quality has never been in question.

The France international has had a miserable 2019-20 season with injuries restricting him to five Premier League starts amid constant speculation over a move away from Old Trafford.

But Pogba made an impressive return as a substitute in the 1-1 away draw against Tottenham on Friday, winning the penalty which was converted by Bruno Fernandes.

United fans are hoping Pogba and Fernandes can form a fruitful midfield partnership and Neville thinks the chances of the World Cup winner staying increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

The former United captain insists the ability and production of Pogba has never been worthy of criticism, calling him the club's only player in the world-class bracket.

"A committed Paul Pogba can be a great player for Manchester United," Neville told Sky Sports. 

"His goal and assist numbers are very good over the last couple of seasons. They are up there with the best. 

"Hopefully with the economical problems – clubs can't spend £80, 90,100 million on players – United will keep him. 

"Pogba will then understand that's he's staying – all I ever want from him is commitment."

Neville added: "I've never blamed him for United's troubles, I do believe he's the one true world-class player, although I would have put David de Gea in there two years ago. 

"Pogba should be the one to lead from the front and if there is speculation around his future it does create doubt in the dressing room.

"Now there's a better chance of that team succeeding."

With his side unbeaten in 12 matches across all competitions, Pogba is set to feature at home to Sheffield United in the Premier League on Wednesday.

David de Gea's struggles at Manchester United have gone beyond the point where they can be considered a blip, according to the club's former captain Gary Neville.

The Spain international made a costly mistake against Tottenham on Friday as he failed to keep out a shot from Steven Bergwijn.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side went on to salvage a 1-1 away draw thanks to Bruno Fernandes' late penalty.

But De Gea's error prompted an astonishing rant from another ex-United skipper, Roy Keane, who branded him "overrated" and said he would have been tempted to punch the Spaniard in the dressing room.

Neville has similar concerns and feels United can no longer rely on the 29-year-old, whose problems date back to the World Cup.

"De Gea was the one player United could rely upon for the last four years but he is not the same," he said on the Gary Neville Podcast.

"He hasn't been the same for some time. When form drops for six months it's a blip but when it goes on for a year you start to worry. When it goes over two years it becomes more permanent.

"That is now a fair representation of what De Gea is as he's making lots of mistakes. Ones he would never make – he was always somebody you could completely rely upon. 

"The reception he's got in Spain has affected him. He's even been booed by Spanish fans when he's wearing the Spanish shirt. 

"In the World Cup in 2018 he really struggled and from that he's doubted himself."

Neville believes the problems for De Gea – who joined United in 2011 – are in the mind, urging him to get back to basics and work harder than he has done at any other point of his career.

"It can only be a confidence thing," said Neville. "Mentally he's not quite the same. The arms, legs and body are the same – it's got to be the mind.

"He's got to go back to basics. There's only one thing you can do when you're having a tough time: work, work harder than you have ever done in your life. 

"What will happen is that you will tell yourself the amount of work you put in you deserve to be good again. That means coming in at 7.30am and leaving at 6pm if needs be.

"He has to do something to stop the erosion. Mistakes like that can happen on the first game back but it's happening far too much over the past couple of years."

Gary Neville is optimistic the Premier League will vote to restart the season in the near future, but he expects more players to drop out.

The United Kingdom government has given Premier League teams the green light for "close-contact" and "competitive" training amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Following that advice, top-flight teams, who are already training in small groups while following social distancing measures, will vote on Wednesday over whether they will proceed to contact training, representing phase two of Project Restart.

Former Manchester United captain Neville is glad a return to action is on the horizon, but he feels more stars will follow the lead of Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and Watford forward Troy Deeney, who have opted not to train for personal reasons.

"I think the clubs will unanimously vote to restart the season in the next few weeks," Neville said to Sky Sports.

"I think there will be a few more players who drop out. I don't think it helps that the Premier League are relying on government advice and we are all watching what's going on with the government at this moment in time.

"The Watford situation seems to have the most focus at this moment but Kante missing for Chelsea is an absolutely huge blow for them from a football point of view, but you completely understand it from a personal point of view.

"That situation seems to have been accepted more than the Watford situation because there is this doubt, this lingering doubt, that the clubs at the bottom are trying to exploit the situation."

Neville added: "Everyone's saying it, the bottom six will be thinking, what's the upside for us? They really will. They'd much prefer null and void but that doesn't seem the scenario right now.

"Every single scenario has to get played out. They have to manage everything because you don't know [what might happen].

"If a load of players go down with coronavirus from a couple of teams, you have to then play out that situation - what if they can't fulfil the fixtures?

"At least they're doing it and fingers crossed, we can get football back on the menu very soon.

"I think relegation will happen and points-per-game will come into play if clubs for any reason can't compete the season."

Gary Neville replied to Jurgen Klopp's good-natured jibe that the former Manchester United defender "has an opinion on everything" in an equally light-hearted manner.

Red Devils legend Neville has been particularly vocal during the coronavirus pandemic and cast doubt over the Premier League's 'Project Restart' plans to resume the top flight in June.

Klopp's table-topping Liverpool were leading Manchester City by 25 points prior to the enforced hiatus and the German was asked about life in lockdown during an interview with BBC Football Focus.

The amiable German could not help but deliver a cheeky jibe at Neville.

"I didn't learn a lot during lockdown except Gary Neville has an opinion on absolutely everything. It's incredible!" Klopp said with a laugh.

"So no, I didn't learn a lot but I have known myself for 52 years.

"I know I can deal with difficult situations before and this is a difficult situation not only for me and my family but for everybody on this planet. I am quite proud of how we as a society are dealing with it.  

"We as human beings are not perfect so we make mistakes but I think we have understood a lot more of how we are all connected to each other. That is something good."

Neville clearly saw the funny side and, after being tagged into a story carrying the comments, replied on Twitter to say: "Delighted he's been listening!!"

Klopp also spoke about his socially distant chance encounter with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.

"Four-and-a-half years I lived in the town and never met him," Klopp added. "I knew where he lives, I live in the house he built and Brendan Rodgers bought and we rent but it had never happened.

"I saw him for sure, walking with his kids and missus. We always keep distant, yeah. But it was nice. I admired him as a player and met him as a guy here and he is a great guy so it was great to see him."

Gary Neville has admitted he may have been "a little bit crass" when claiming Carlos Tevez "downed tools" in the final months of the Argentinian's Manchester United career.

Former United defender Neville made the accusation earlier this week, sparking a stinging riposte from Tevez's representative Kia Joorabchian.

Neville stands by the crux of his argument, which was that Tevez's contribution and his engagement dropped off towards the end of the 2008-09 season.

But his comments were challenged in a lively head-to-head with Joorabchian on Sky Sports News, causing Neville to accept his verdict could have been better put.

"What I would say is, 'down tools' might be a little bit crass," Neville said on Friday.

"But Carlos was distracted, he was different, and he certainly wasn't anywhere near the level in that last four months at the club, you must accept that?"

Joorabchian said Neville had been "absolutely wrong" with his initial assessment.

"I often let things go," Joorabchian said. "But I think that when you go after somebody and you have made a lot of wrong and incorrect statements, then by letting it go will not do the benefit to the public of listening to fake information."

Joorabchian questioned how Neville - now a Sky Sports pundit - had gained such insight that he could possibly know, as he had claimed, that Tevez had people "in his ear" during his second year at Old Trafford.

And broadening his defence of Tevez, Joorabchian asked whether Neville was casting aspersions on former United boss Alex Ferguson's leadership.

"By Gary making those comments of the second year, he's in some way questioning whether Sir Alex had his finger to the pulse," Joorabchian said.

"Because Sir Alex picked Carlos 51 times during that season of 2008-2009 - 51 times. He picked [Wayne] Rooney 49 times, [Dimitar] Berbatov 44 times, and Gary himself only played 29 in that season.

"In those moments Carlos played 51 games picked by Sir Alex: 15 goals, seven assists. Berbatov: 14 goals, 11 assists. And Rooney: 20 goals, 13 assists.

"Sir Alex would not have picked someone 51 times during that season, as Gary well knows, if they were down-tooling or being unprofessional, unless Gary thinks that Sir Alex took his eye off the ball."

Neville was given the chance to justify his remarks and largely stayed true to his original script, saying there was "no doubt" Tevez lost focus when it became known he would be leaving United.

At the end of that 2008-09 campaign, Tevez made the rare switch of leaving United to join neighbours Manchester City.

Neville said Tevez at United "went into more of a sulky mood because he was disappointed the club weren't signing him", and produced his own statistics, looking at Tevez's modest Premier League contribution.

According to Neville: "The drop in his manner and his performances - just because maybe he was not being taken on by the club - was alarming."

Gary Neville has slammed Carlos Tevez for his behaviour and professionalism towards the end of his second season at Manchester United, adding he "couldn't stand" it.

Tevez won two Premier League titles in as many seasons with United between 2007 and 2009, as well as the Champions League.

He acrimoniously left the club for rivals Manchester City after his two-year loan stint at Old Trafford came to an end.

While many United fans were angry at the Argentine for joining City, it was his deteriorating attitude after a stellar debut campaign at United that irritated Neville.

"What annoyed me about Tevez was that he downed tools in his second season," former United captain Neville told Sky Sports.

"He started sitting on the treatment table, started coming out late for training, started messing around.

"He was playing the club and I couldn't stand that, particularly being how I was at the time, which was a ferocious Manchester United person who never thought of anything else in my life.

"I understood that he had circumstances, but his people were in his ear all the time and he was so led by his people. It was always going to come to an end like it did.

"I felt disappointed that, as a professional, he didn't act the right way.

"The problem that I had with Tevez wasn't that he went to play for Manchester City. That wasn't the main issue for me. It was the way it played out in those last few months. I didn't like it."

Cristiano Ronaldo, who also departed at the end of the 2008-09 season, was an example of a player who left United in the right way, according to Neville.

"I never had a problem with people leaving the club," he said. "David Beckham left the club, Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, Ruud van Nistelrooy left the club. Great, great players.

"But there was a way to leave the club and the way to behave while you're there."

Neville was keen to stress he was an admirer of Tevez's ability, as he formed a devastating front three with Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

He added: "Let's be clear here, Tevez, for a year, with Ronaldo and Rooney, was just breathtaking.

"It was out of this world, not just because of the quality of the players, but because there was a real selfish, horrible, nasty determination to those three.

"Ronaldo in a different way on the pitch, in the sense that he wouldn't go around kicking people, hassling people and hustling.

"He was just immense in terms of his performance levels. But Rooney and Tevez were street fighters, with unbelievable ability. 

"We talk about the best front threes in the Premier League - you'll never beat those three for me."

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes have the ability to forge an "amazing" midfield partnership at Manchester United if they are willing to "compromise", says Gary Neville.

Portugal midfielder Fernandes was an instant hit at United after finally arriving in a deal worth up to £67.6million (€80m) in January before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to his momentum.

Fernandes scored three goals and assisted four in nine matches across all competitions but is yet to team up with Pogba, who has not featured since December due initially to an ankle injury and latterly the suspension of the Premier League due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Red Devils were in good form prior to the enforced hiatus, having put together an 11-match unbeaten run, and former United defender Neville has high hopes for a Pogba and Fernandes double act.

Answering a question regarding the two in a Twitter Q and A, Neville replied: "They could be amazing together if they compromise and work to help each other."

Neville also tipped Pogba as the most likely United player to one day win a Ballon d'Or before turning attentions to questions about the club's transfer policy.

Asked about his perceived view in regards to the financial clout the club could have in the market when the sporting world begins to return to normality may result in the arrival of "mercenaries", Neville replied: "The transfer policy has changed in the last two seasons so I would hope not."

The former England full-back also refused to name a specific player he would like to see United sign, but did add: "Not a name but I like the 20-25 year olds. The ones that have that next level in them type of signing."

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Neville has suggested the Premier League should consider playing games in European "hotspots" without coronavirus concerns, if the plan remains to finish the season.

The 2019-20 top-flight campaign has been halted since March 13 due to the global health pandemic, though the Premier League has continued to make clear its determination to complete the backlog of fixtures.

Friday will see further talks held between stakeholders over how to proceed, with reports suggesting there is hope for action to resume on the weekend commencing June 13.

Neville, however, is concerned over games going ahead in Britain safely - even behind closed doors - considering the logistical issues involved.

Instead, the former Manchester United and England defender has raised the possibility of shifting to safer locations in Europe, places that can "handle the virus" and allow football to be played.

"If the Premier League are really serious about delivering the matches that remain in a safe environment, they would move it to the two or three spots that are within three or four hours of this country that are coronavirus free," Neville said during Sky Sports' The Football Show on Friday.

"They would take the Premier League players, broadcasters and media over, quarantine for a week or two and then deliver it in an environment that has proven it can handle this virus.

"There are a couple of hotspots in Europe that haven't got coronavirus which could handle the Premier League finishing. If they were serious about it and wanted to deliver it with a safe outcome, they could do that.

"In this country, I'm not sure they can deliver it with the amount of coronavirus which is around, especially with the amount of movement of it out there and the logistic issues. I'm not sure they can deliver what they want to do."

The United Kingdom has seen over 26,000 coronavirus-related deaths during the crisis.

Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham. The names are synonymous with Manchester United but the iconic 'Class of 92' sextet are behind the rise of League Two outfit Salford City.

All eyes have been on previously unheralded Salford since the former United stars completed a takeover in 2014, with the help of businessman and Valencia owner Peter Lim, who is the largest single shareholder at 40 per cent. Beckham became a co-owner alongside the Neville brothers, Scholes, Giggs and Butt last year.

It has been a rapid rise for Salford - four promotions in five seasons seeing the club go from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the fourth tier of English football for the first time in the history of the 80-year-old team.

Salford are now a full-time operation, far removed from the part-time outfit purchased by the 'Class of 92' six years ago, but there is no intention of slowing down. Reaching the Championship by 2029 was the initial target, with Premier League promotion and a fairy-tale date with United the ultimate dream for the group of former Red Devils, who won the treble at Old Trafford during their illustrious careers in Manchester.

Cameron Burgess swapped Scunthorpe United for Salford on loan at the start of the 2019-20 season and the former Australia youth international, who reunited with Graham Alexander at Moor Lane, told Stats Perform: "You hear about how the club is run and the first thing you hear is ambition, success. That's what it is all about. It's not so much that we have the resources and we're this and we're that, it's just success and that's what we want and you need to help us achieve that."

"Some people expect our owners down there, almost on the training pitch everyday sort of thing," he added. "It's not like that. It's the same as every other owner, they're very hands-on with things they need to deal with. But we have a manager and assistant manager who've played in the Premier League, it's not like they don't know what they're doing. Everyone does their own jobs, it's like not David Beckham is down on the pitch taking free-kicks. They're as hands-on as they need to be from an off-field perspective."

It is an ambitious and exciting project in Salford, where the Ammies were the subject of a popular documentary, detailing their rise to prominence in 2015. And expectations are high.

"You don't have to be told [about expectations]. It's there, you can see it," Burgess said. "Previous promotions, plastered on the walls. It's all there for everyone to see. You definitely feel that pressure but it's pressure in a good way. It's everyone moving in the right direction and making sure we're successful. It's that pressure to meet expectations but in a good way… it's what you want and what you play for to be able to succeed. You feel that as soon as you walk through the door."

Salford are a club close to the hearts of the 'Class of 92'. Scholes was born in the town, Giggs was raised in nearby Swinton, while the Neville brothers grew up in neighbouring Bury.

The co-owners have overseen improvements on and off the pitch, transforming Moor Lane into a 5,100-capacity arena with four new stands, modern seating, executive boxes and corporate hospitality. But the investment has not been without criticism.

Some supporters were frustrated when the team's badge and colours were changed from tangerine and black to red and white. Salford have also been previously dubbed the non-League Manchester City for their spending. Gary Neville was embroiled in a public spat with Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt in 2018 after being accused of "trying to steal" a Football League spot by signing Adam Rooney from Aberdeen.

"It's funny because obviously the people who criticise and say these things don't always know the full story and they don't know the reason behind things. It's all about the success. People on the pitch inside football, they probably know that a bit more, it's not that same vibe," Burgess said.

"We're sort of everyone's derby because they want to beat us and impress to show they can be the ones in our shirts. That's how it'll always be. The spotlight will always be on you, but you have to thrive on."

Salford were 10th in League Two and eight points outside the play-off positions when the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, vying for a fifth promotion in six years.

"It's definitely strange because we've never been in this situation before. It's like an off-season. We've been told and we're pretty confident the season will restart, so we're staying fit and keeping healthy," said Burgess, who is representing Salford in the EFL Football Manager Cup.

"At Salford, it's been pretty much business as usual. They've been great in taking away the outside noise and making sure we're just focusing on what we have to do. We've been working hard as a team on Zoom et cetera. It's keeping fit and healthy as best we can. It's been pretty enjoyable."

It has been a challenging and unusual situation for Burgess and Salford, with the squad training individually amid the COVID-19 crisis, but the former Fulham defender added: "It's been pretty interesting, especially for me. I'm one of those that if you get me out on the grass, everything flows. The competitive edge takes over, it's another world. Whereas when you're by yourself, you just have to be on it.

"We have these little Zoom sessions and challenges, but it's interesting to hear what's important. You learn a bit more because you have to know what you're doing and what makes a difference. When you're on the pitch, it doesn't really matter why you're doing it, you're just doing it cause it's going to win or get an advantage. We're doing movements on the grass you don't realise you're doing, whereas when you're by yourself, you have to keep on top of those things."

Frank Lampard said politicians "jumped the gun" by calling for footballers to act in the national interest over the coronavirus pandemic, claiming his Chelsea players were among those already preparing to play their part.

The United Kingdom's health secretary Matt Hancock used a national press briefing to urge elite footballers in England to take a pay cut, and since then Premier League players have announced the creation of a charity fund to help health services in the fight against COVID-19.

Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker all hit back at the government's decision to single out footballers in the debate over salary reductions, and Lampard echoed their comments while praising the response to the pandemic at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea agreed to let the National Health Service use the club's Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge to accommodate staff, and Lampard told Sky Sports News: "I was very proud to be manager of this club with the way Chelsea handled it. They were very quick to respond to help with the hotel.

"There's a lot more work they've been doing with the foundation, with link-ups, getting in touch with fans, with putting on tutorials from some of the academy coaches. There are a lot of people at Chelsea who have stood up with some good work.

"I think they needed some time and I think the politicians jumped the gun while things were being prepared. People behind the scenes knew that and it's unfortunate that picture got painted.

"Since then a lot of players and clubs have stood up in a good way generally. Knowing the players and how they think, that's been a very good reaction. And it's ongoing and it shouldn't stop. I think that reaction needs to continue. If there's a light at the end of this tunnel, if there are things we can all learn, it's how we give back and stick together."

Lampard also paid tribute to former Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, who died on Sunday following a long-term illness.

Bonetti made 729 appearances for the Blues, winning the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners' Cup, and the League Cup.

Lampard said: "My memory is of watching him as a player, but also memories of meeting him and what a gentleman he was. He was working in hospitality at Chelsea when I first arrived, working upstairs.

"[He was] so friendly with everyone that came to the game. Had time for everybody, absolute gentleman and a huge loss to Chelsea and to football."

Harry Kane would fit in with Manchester United's traditions of "historical transfers", according to former captain Gary Neville.

The Red Devils are reportedly interested in signing the Tottenham striker for a fee that could be worth up to a world-record £200million, a sum that would potentially be welcome during the economic uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Although more recent reports have claimed Spurs have no desire to sell Kane to a rival club, it was the forward's own admission during an Instagram live chat that he could consider leaving to challenge for silverware that has prompted the rumours.

Neville believes that was a calculated move by Kane, a player he feels will have been disappointed by Spurs' decision to take advantage of the United Kingdom government's Job Retention Scheme and place staff on furlough.

Neville also thinks United's pursuit of Kane would make sense given their history of signing some of the biggest home-grown stars in the Premier League era.

"It fits Manchester United's historical transfers, going back to Brian Robson, Roy Keane, trying to sign Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney," he told Sky Sports News.

"They were the best or most famous English, British or Irish players in the Premier League and Manchester United tried to sign that player so it does fit with that. Just look at what Manchester United did last summer with Harry Maguire, who was one of the best players on the market.

"In terms of Kane, I did work with him for England. He's a clever lad and he's not somebody who would get caught out if he didn't want to say something. The little opening of the door that he left in that Instagram piece with Jamie [Redknapp] was probably something that had something in it.

"I also don't think Kane would have been that impressed with his club a couple of weeks ago with what they did [using the government's Job Retention Scheme and furloughing staff]. Kane is a good lad, a solid lad and he wouldn't have taken that particularly well and he's probably just poking them back. In my mind, I think he would have been warning them and saying, 'just be careful because I'm watching you and it's not something that we do'."

United have also been heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, who is expected to cost upwards of £100m if he decides to leave the Bundesliga club.

However, Neville does not think it would necessarily be appropriate for Premier League clubs to pursue expensive transfers at a time when there is uncertainty over their finances.

He even believes a transfer embargo should be placed on those sides that bring in wage reductions.

"These transfer discussions, whether it be Harry Kane to United for 200million or Jadon Sancho to City or United for 100million, it completely undermines the discussions the Premier League are having with the players around taking a 30 per cent pay cut," he said.

"Transfers are things the fans love, and we love players moving around, but it does seem to me to be awry when we've got such a behind-the-scenes war going on with respect to players taking cuts, the clubs needing support, and then in the next breath you've got a £200million transfer speculation going on.

"That doesn't feel right to me. Premier League clubs can't stop the speculation, but there's no smoke without fire. I would suggest the Premier League to stop this would probably put a transfer embargo in place on all clubs that are looking to reduce their players' wages.

"That would take away a lot of the angst that is existing among the players behind the scenes who feel they're having the wool pulled over their eyes by the clubs."

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