Belfast Telegraph

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville must be football's oddest couple

By Billy Weir

There are some partnerships that you know are doomed from the start - Charles and Di, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, Den and Angie, Jordan and anybody - and others that defy the odds to survive - fish and chips, George and Mildred, Bert and Ernie and Turner and Hooch. And then there is Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.

It really shouldn't work. They have nothing in common, other than a mutual hatred of everything the other stands for, but put them together on Monday Night Football and even one of the worst football matches ever played by man couldn't dim their collective shining lights.

Like all partnerships they will have their own fans. I always shouted for Tom against Jerry, Terry against June, Jack against Vera and with football's intrepid duo it really comes to which side of the divide you occupy between Liverpool and Manchester.

There's absolutely no grey area between two former reds of very different shades on where they stand, Carragher and Neville with their colours nailed very firmly to their respective masts.

Sky tried to build up Manchester United's visit to Southampton as a simmering rivalry between two Dutchmen in Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman, but there was only one row brewing.

"I don't think United made the top six last year, they just missed out, which was nice," said Carra, first to unsheathe his pointy stick, as the pair looked back on the weekend's action with presenter-cum-referee Ed Chamberlin.

They were at it straight away, wild disagreement over whether Man City should have had a penalty, Neville, who hates Scousers by the way, indicating that Carragher was no stranger to the odd errant tackle.

"It's the completion of poacher turned gamekeeper, a man who butchered people knee-high for 15 years," he hinted, before Carragher, whose granny's chip shop had clearly suffered many moons ago in Liverpool, turned his attention to German Gunners and Per Mertesacker's less than glorious display at Stoke.

"It's typical Arsenal - schoolboys against men. Who's going to win the ball, Bojan, six stone wet through, or Per Mertesacker, six foot five, German international? He abandons ship, that's not acceptable for a player of that quality," as Carragher aimed to be as popular at the Emirates as, well, Arsene Wenger.

Onto Monday night's football and there was precious little of it in the opening 45 minutes at the St Mary's stadium, and it was Neville's turn to turn nasty - against United.

"This is a massive achievement in to be as bad as they were at Arsenal and still be level. Half of them are playing the wrong way. They've been horrid to watch," he hinted.

It didn't get much better, somehow United winning 2-1 and even two-goal hero Robin van Persie admitting that they had been 'shloppy'.

Neville took it a little bit further.

"They look shaky on the ball and tonight they lacked counter-attack and any kind of speed. They've got away with murder tonight really with that sort of performance."

Carragher didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"It was a brilliant result for United. They're still up there and it's a bit of a worry for me," he said, giving Neville something to smile about.

"I don't think Van Gaal will have managed as bad a passing performance as that in his career. It was that frustrating I was laughing," said Neville before turning his attention to the small matter of the clash between United and Liverpool on Sunday.

"It's like the Dog and Duck versus the Red Lion," he said to raucous laughter in the studio as the respective legal teams from the two hostelries in question considered their response.

"I don't think there's too much in performance (between Man United and Liverpool), if you assess them in the league campaign. But the difference is United are back to the old United of lucky United," was Carragher's response, but the real luck is Sky's in that they've plucked this team from out of the ether.

ITV tried to hit back on Tuesday night by pairing Robbie Fowler, a man who always looks like he's had an enjoyable night in the Dog and Duck and the Red Lion, with Paul Scholes, who looks like he might go to the pub, but only to get them to turn the noise down.

There is some potential in that partnership, if Adrian Chiles would shut up long enough to let them loose on each other, but just as they were as players, Carragher and Neville may prove just too hard to beat.

Belfast Telegraph

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