Gary Neville has criticised the ‘apology culture’ plaguing elite football after Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes posted a lengthy statement following his missed penalty against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon. The Portuguese maestro was tasked with salvaging a draw from 12 yards in stoppage time after Kortney Hause handled the ball inside the area to give the Red Devils a late spot-kick.
Fernandes scored no less than 13 penalties last season but was surprisingly unable to find the back of the net on this occasion.
He blazed his effort high and wide to hand Villa a famous victory at Old Trafford, with Hause firing home the winning goal just minutes earlier.
The midfielder responded to his error by apologising on social media, insisting that he will do better next time and claiming that he will never succumb to external pressure.
Neville, who won eight Premier League titles with United over the course of his career, has since ridiculed Fernandes and urged his fellow professionals to speak with authenticity and forgo the crowd-pleasing guff in future instances.
“It’s embarrassing! They need to sack their PR people,” said Neville in a series of tweets on Monday.
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“Speak with some authenticity and get on with it. I’m going to go big on this in the next few weeks.
“They’ve all got these comms managers, that are creating personalities that don’t exist!
“The apology culture that’s engulfing football would be ok if it came from a genuine place. However, more often than not, it’s a smokescreen and diversion tactic designed to mask crap performance by experts!
“Lose a game = crisis comms meet! How do we spin this one our way?
“Final message of the day on the apology stuff and strong advice to players. If you’re going to say something after a game, go on TV (I accept players don’t always want to) or post a video on social media where everyone can see it is you.”
The extent of Fernandes’ involvement in writing his 187-word apology is not known, but it seems unlikely that he would have created and posted the message entirely of his own accord.
The midfielder’s statement read: “Nobody is more frustrated or disappointed than me for missing the penalty and the consequent defeat.
“I’ve always assumed my responsibilities and I’ve always embraced them under pressure in moments like this.
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“Today, I failed, but I took a step forward and embraced the challenge with the same ambition and responsibility as when, on the many other occasions, the ball ended up in the back of the net.
“Criticism is contrasting and opinions are a big part of football. I’ve learned to live with it, even using them to drive me on, and I consider it a very big part of my commitment to never stop trying to improve and become the best player I can possibly be, for me and the team.
“Today, I once again took the responsibility given to me when I joined United and I will take it again without fear or dread whenever called upon.
“The most important thing for me is to win together and I’ll always do everything I can to help my team-mates and the club be the best we can be.”