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Premier League

Gary Neville reveals how Sir Alex Ferguson prepared his side before a much with a riveting team-talk - about anything other than football

Former Manchester United defender also claims his Monday Night Football debut was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of his life

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has revealed the secrets behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s team talks that made him so successful – don’t mention football.

Neville, who now has gained a positive reputation at a Sky Sports analyst since hanging up his boots, has admitted that sometimes Ferguson would talk about everything but football before matches to put the team in a positive mind-frame.

"Sometimes they would be nothing to do with football,” said Neville, speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

"It would be about a dockyard, it could be about growing up, could be about a gentleman he met that was 78 last week and is going into work as much as he's ever done.

"He was a psychologist really. He didn't believe in psychology but he was a psychologist.

"In every message he gave you he was trying to affect your mind and get you into a positive mindset."

He admitted that Ferguson "demanded excellence and hard work" and said the "players bought into him massively”, adding "We got to the point whereby you're almost 24 clones really in some ways."

But despite Ferguson’s reputation, Neville maintains that his debut on Sky Sport’s premier football analyst show Monday Night Football was the most nerve-wracking experience of his life.

"I was nervous as a footballer at times, but I was more nervous doing Monday Night Football,” Neville explained.

"It was the most nerve-wracking experience I'd had in my life along with my driving test."

Neville has now been joined on the show by former Liverpool defender and England team-mate Jamie Carragher, with the recently retired Liverpool star making the move to punditry earlier this week.

The initial response appears to be that the combination of Neville and Carragher along with their experience of the game gives the show a boost as they look to compete with new rivals BT Sport.