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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 24, 2006

Neville tells Liverpool fans to calm down

Manchester United captain Gary Neville finds it hard to believe he offended Liverpool supporters with his celebration of Sunday's winning goal.

Neville raced 60 yards towards the Liverpool fans following Rio Ferdinand's last-minute header, and then grabbed his shirt before punching the air in jubilation.

The 1-0 win at Old Trafford kept United second in the Barclays Premiership and Neville admitted he went 'bananas' for a few seconds.

But the 30-year-old insists he did not intend any disrespect to Liverpool and fears sanctions for such celebrations may lead to football becoming a game for robots.

'What are you meant to do? Smile sweetly and jog back to the halfway line?' Neville told The Times.

'You are caught up in the moment and, yes, for a few seconds you can go bananas. I laughed when I heard someone say that it was not the behaviour of a 30-year-old because they are probably the same people who have accused us of lacking passion in recent games.

'No disrespect to Liverpool was intended. I would have been apologetic if I had run up to one of their players and tried to belittle them, but this was a celebration.

'Last week, I had to put up with a Liverpool lad taunting our fans during the Manchester derby, but at no point did I even consider that Robbie Fowler should be punished. The stick is part of the game. One week you take it on the chin, the next you give it out. That is how local rivals have always been - and always should be.

'I have to put up with Liverpool fans singing plenty of songs about me, none of them tasteful, and I struggle to believe that I have caused them any grave offence with an exuberant celebration.

'Increasingly people seem to want their footballers to be whiter than white and there are calls for sanctions over every little incident. Do they want a game of robots?'

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