Arsenal icon Patrick Vieira has told Gary Neville how he "couldn't stand" the Manchester United legend during their playing careers.

It was back in 2005 that the two pundits found themselves at the centre of a scrap that went down in Premier League infamy. Then-United captain Roy Keane blared at Gunners counterpart Vieira as the two teams lined up in the tunnel at Highbury, where the Red Devils went on to win 4-2 that day.

However, it was actually Neville who caused the kerfuffle after Vieira approached him prior to kick-off and told the full-back: "You won't kick our f*****g players today." Neville relayed what had transpired back to the rest of his squad, which in turn incensed Keane, who took it as an affront against his whole squad.

The Irishman has previously told how he felt compelled to stand up for his team-mate, and in truth, the incident likely only motivated United further. But Vieira gave his side of the story and explained why he felt the need to address Neville at all.

“That was planned by me. Because of the 9 years I spent at Arsenal, I didn’t like you at all," the Frenchman told his former rival on the latest episode of Stick to Football, brought to you by Sky Bet. "It is true, I couldn’t stand you at all, because you were kicking everybody, and especially Robert [Pires] when he was there. In that game I was like I must make you aware that today you are not going to touch Robert - I knew that was the plan for you because you struggled against Robert."

Regardless of how one might feel about the message, there's no faulting Vieira's honesty in confronting his former foe. Arsene Wenger's side were at the time arguably the most technically-gifted team in the Premier League, while Sir Alex Ferguson's United were partial to a more rough-and-tumble approach.

Vieira, 47, then made a dig about United receiving aid from the officials during the Ferguson years, adding: “That day I had to tell you to leave him alone. I felt that you were over the top against him. Robert was nice, he was too nice to complain, and I felt at that time you went over the top, it was too much, and it was too obvious.

"Obviously, because of Manchester United controlling all the referees, you had so much power you were allowed to do what you really wanted to do, so I had it planned in my mind. In the warm-up, if I saw you going into the tunnel, I would run after you. I saw you running, and i just ran behind you and wanted to make you aware that today would be different and something that wasn’t going to happen."

The World Cup winner laughed at his own comment that Neville, 49, "struggled against" Pires and gave Jamie Carragher a knowing elbow. One could even claim the opposite was true considering Pires won only four of his 17 encounters with United, and Neville lined up opposite him for most of those.

In fact, Neville prospered more against Arsenal during Pires' reign in north London. Four of the full-back's nine Premier League losses to the Gunners came between 1995 and 1998, compared to just two defeats between 2000 and 2006 when Pires played under Wenger.

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2024-06-10T13:51:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd