According to Charlie Sale at the Daily Mail, Gary Neville will return to his role as a pundit with Sky’s Monday Night Football next season.
Neville would rejoin sparring partner Jamie Carragher in the Sky studio. They would be joined by new MNF presenter Dave Jones, following Ed Chamberlin’s departure to ITV to front the network’s horse-racing coverage. There’s been no official word from either Neville or Sky – Sale’s assertion is based on “the word within England party in France” – but any reunion would likely be welcomed by Sky’s head of sport Barney Francis, who said “the door is always open should he wish to return” when Neville left to manage Valencia last December.
Neville’s return would be a boost for Sky, who will be without Champions League football for another two seasons after BT Sport paid £900 million over three years for exclusive broadcasting right to the competition. The upcoming Premier League season will also be the first under the League’s record £5.1 billion TV deal – under which Sky will show 126 games a season and BT Sport will show 42. With Gary Lineker now fronting much of BT Sport’s coverage, the return of their own heavyweight would be a welcome one.
Neville has largely kept low profile since being sacked by Valencia in March after winning 10 of his 28 matches in charge, eschewing any interviews about his time at Valencia in favour of re-focusing on his role as England’s assistant coach. Two weeks ago Neville argued that Roy Hodgson deserved a contract extension at the end of Euro 2016; regarding his own future he has remained silent. He also has his co-ownership of Salford City and Hotel Football to keep him busy.
The next question is whether Neville will return to management at some point. It seems unlikely that he would give up. Despite the ignominious end, his fierce work-rate and determination to succeed at Valencia was evident and he does not seem, at least, to be the kind of character to quit. Neville has always been ready to admit his weaknesses when he felt it necessary, so if he does return to Sky, it remains to be seen he’d discuss a return to management.
In April, Hodgson said that conversations with Neville had indicated he wouldn’t be making any sudden moves. “I think that he would like to get into management, of course, but I think he’d also be happy if we stayed the same and not just jump at the first management job, if you like, that comes his way,” he said. “You’d have to ask him, but at the moment I think he’s quite happy to be back in England. He has got a lot on his plate, he has got a lot of projects and certainly working with England would be one of them if we were to continue.”