Neville responds to ‘conflict of interest’ suggestion as Salford take on Man Utd

Gary Neville insists there will be no conflict of interest when Salford City host Manchester United on Wednesday.

Salford, the club part-owned by Neville, his brother Phil, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes, face United Under-21s in the EFL Trophy.

It is the first time the Class of 92 have met their old club, but Neville says there will be no divided loyalties or issues of competitive integrity – despite Butt being United's head of first-team development.

“I don't think there's any conflict of interest,” said Neville.

“People will obviously point to a conflict of interest, and it's an issue we had to deal with last year, or even when Scholsey was manager of Oldham.

“Obviously Nicky has no say in the team at Salford, as none of us do, it's dealt with by the manager.

“And the idea that we'd ring him up and he'd try to pass on something that's happening at United is never going to happen.

“So I think from that point of view, the conflict of interest is perceived conflict, it's not an actual conflict.

“But there is an element of it feeling different, because we're playing against United, and it's the first time we've ever played against them.

“But I think the pressure's off, as it's the Under-21s, unless Pogba, Rashford and Greenwood rock up and shock us! I'd like that – they might need a run-out!”

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United's Under-23 side – which included first-team stars Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams last season – must include at least six players under the age of 21 for the EFL Trophy.

Although Neville admitted it will be strange facing United, given his lifelong link with the club, he said it would be far worse if it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side Salford were up against.

“I don't think it'll be that bad, because it's the Under-23s,” said Neville.

“If it was the first-team, we were playing at Old Trafford and there was a crowd, I don't know what we'd do, if I'm honest.

“But with the Under-23s, we can be a bit more relaxed.”

After four promotions in five seasons, Salford's meteoric rise was halted with last season's 11th-place finish in League Two, their debut campaign in the league.

Neville acknowledged the reality check and said: “We obviously struggled in the league last season and it was a bit of a clip round the ear for us.

“We'd had four promotions in five years and thought we'd just keep most of the squad together and just add to it a little bit, but we ended up with nowhere near the quality we needed.

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“Obviously we've got these two big cup games now, with United and Everton in the Carabao Cup. “But we know the league is the bread and butter, what you pride yourselves on, it's where your consistency is measured, and we want a squad that basically doesn't dip.

“We'll be really annoyed if we see the team play well against United, against Rotherham and Everton.

“We've got Exeter and Grimsby in the league sandwiched in between. They're the most important games and we need to make sure everybody's focused on that.”

*TalkTalk has extended its partnership with Salford City FC to include the Salford City Lionesses. The sponsorship is the latest example of TalkTalk’s commitment to the local community and reflects the connectivity provider’s efforts to champion inclusivity and diversity.

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