Belfast Telegraph

When Gary Neville met Jamie Carragher – a new football love story

By Billy Weir

There have been many odd couples over the years, relationships that had you scratching your head and wondering just how they had come to pass.

Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Ulrika Jonsson and Sven-Goran Eriksson, Lembit Opik and half of the Cheeky Girls, Chas 'n' Dave, the list goes on and on, but Sky's pairing of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher is perhaps the oddest of all.

It would be fair to say that they weren't exactly bosom buddies when they served their respective clubs with distinction at opposite ends of the M62, but now no longer booted but suited, they are Sky's big hopes for the new season.

Like a Royal engagement, they were wheeled out in front of the cameras this week to preview the new Premier League campaign, where they were billed as 'old rivals, new season.'

Alternatively they could have used 'When Gary met Carra' and there was a scene where there was much moaning, sweat lashing off brows and banging on a table but that was just Neville trying to get to grips with Sky's fancy electronic gizmos.

Their chaperone for their first date was Ed Chamberlin, who, in typical Sky fashion, refused to get carried away.

"It's just nine days to go to the start of the most eagerly awaited Premier League season EVER," he announced, possibly the boldest and most foolhardy statement uttered by a Chamberlin for many years.

But there did seem to be peace in our time as the two firebrands of football's biggest enemies called a truce to hostilities to fight against the common enemy – BT Sport.

"It's a season that should have everything," added Ed, but just how it's going to be surpassed by clubs paying cash, and quite a lot of it, for Gervinho and Stewart Downing, is anyone's guess, unless Luis Suarez is David Moyes' first signing.

He could well be, in 2016 the way it's going, and not surprisingly the striker was the main topic of discussion as Gary and Carra got their teeth into the season.

A lame joke I hear you cry, but Gary didn't even flinch when he said Arsenal signing Suarez would 'give them a player with plenty of bite.'

Then the fledgling relationship hit rockier ground.

Gary said Gareth Bale was a one-season wonder, Jamie disagreed; Jamie said Moyes would change how United played, Gary disagreed, but soon they were back teasing each other.

Gary suggested that some Man City players looked like they had 'parachutes on them when they were running back' and quick as a flash, cheeky Scouser Jamie asked 'did they borrow them from you?'

This brought a chilling laugh from Gary, but he quickly opened his jacket to show Jamie all his medals, before continuing his battle with technology.

"I'm just getting used to this new thing," he said, and I think he meant the computer and not Jamie, but with all the arrows flying around the screen it looked like the start of Dad's Army.

It was more 'calm down, calm down' than 'don't panic' though when Gary described Jamie's old Liverpool team-mate, Luis Garcia, as a 'bag of nothing', saying 'I think you're being a bit harsh there' as Ed dived below the desk, but peace broke out again at the end, we all hugged and prepared ourselves for their second date, when Monday Night Football returns, funnily enough, on Monday night.

It should be a cracking start with Man City taking on Newcastle and will be interesting to see if Gary's wise words that 'coaching manuals don't win championships' is proven by Snr Pellegrini.

Oh, 'manuals' not 'Manuel'? My mistake.

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