Neville slams Man Utd for 'creating robots' as club media chief admits players' tweets based on 'fan sentiment graphs'

GARY NEVILLE has slammed Manchester United for 'creating robots on and off the pitch'.

The Red Devils legend told United's media CEO Phil Lynch to 'get the f*** away' after the American admitted players' social media posts can be based on 'fan sentiment graphs'.

Stars from across the football world are often criticised for using agencies or management companies to post on their social media accounts.

And Lynch has now confirmed United also get involved to help 'manage the narrative' and 'join forces with players and their teams' to tell 'the story they want to get out'.

Footage of Lynch's interview from last month emerged online and Neville was furious with what he saw.

The 46-year-old shared the clip and tweeted: "Creating robots on and off the pitch!

"Get the [email protected]@k away from them. It’s a football club.

"He makes controlling fans sound like he’s trying to win a general election!"


Speaking on SportsPro's StreamTime podcast, Lynch said: "Each one of these players are individuals. Some want charity focus, some want family focus, some want just football focus.

"It's really trying to understand what narrative they want to tell. And then we're here to help support that narrative.

"It does get a little tricky sometimes because I think there's a lot of the mass media out there trying to build that story, trying to find that tabloid piece of content. That's not what we do at all.

"We're trying to work with them and understand the narrative and story they want to get out and then we support that and we join forces on it.

"To your question about how do we work with them, we pull – twice a day – social media fan sentiment graphs for every single one of our players.

"And we have certain thresholds that alert us when we see fan sentiment going one way or the other – whether that be a personal issue or an on-pitch performance issue.


"And when that happens we then start to work with that player and his team individually to try to start to counter that narrative a little bit.

"In a lot of cases it's just emotion and it comes up and it comes down anyway.

"But we do spend a lot of time on what we call social media monitoring and tracking and then working specifically with each individual players.

"But again, it's 25 bespoke processes, it's not 'here's the game plan and it's going to work for all of you'."

After United fell to their sixth defeat in 12 games on Saturday – a 2-0 defeat to bitter rivals City – several stars posted on social media talking of their hurt and disappointment.

Harry Maguire wrote on Sunday: "As a group of players we are going through a tough period.

"We know and accept this is nowhere near good enough.

"We feel your frustration and disappointment, we are doing everything we can to put things right and we will put things right.

"Thanks for your support. UNITED."

Eric Bailly – whose own goal gave City a 1-0 lead after seven minutes – tweeted: "Nobody is more frustrated than me.

"I have to keep my head up. No excuses."

And David De Gea simply said: "I am hurt."

Before social media, such sentiments and apologies from players to fans were much more scarce but usually a lot more heartfelt.

And just a quick glance in the comments of most of United's players' post-City posts show how fans feel.

Jamie wrote: "Not good enough. We've heard it too many times. Show some leadership on the pitch Harry!!"

Shivam added: "Please stop it. Don't want your apologies."

Ben tweeted: "City do their talking on the field. We like to write Twitter apologies instead. Levels."

And Alan said: "Nice copy and paste from your PR team."

There is no suggestion Maguire uses a third party to tweet from his account or that United are dictating what players post.

But Bruno Fernandes got himself in hot water with fans on Sunday morning when his account posted a photo of Arsenal players.

Fans were already furious after their team's abject showing against City.

And fuel was added to the fire when Fernandes' Twitter account – likely run by the same group as Gunners star Gabriel Martinelli – posted the picture with the caption 'Gooood vibes'.

Martinelli's Instagram had the exact same picture and caption which was not a good look for either player.

Chelsea ace Romelu Lukaku was recently praised by fans for 'actually tweeting himself' and the Belgian star all-but confirmed the majority of Prem stars use third parties.

Replying to the positive tweet, the Blues striker wrote: "It's not even them tweeting."

Lynch admitted to being a boyhood Arsenal fan before switching allegiance to United in the mid-90s 'like a lot of people globally'.

He has previously worked for Yahoo and Sony Pictures in various senior media roles.

And earlier in the interview, he made it clear why he was employed by the club.

He explained: "My main remit is just overall to build reach and engagement and fan affiliation with our 1.1billion fans and followers."

And speaking about changes made since he joined United in January 2017, Lynch added: "It was all about trying to create the direct relationship with fans.

"I think ultimately you want to be able to control your fans' journey.

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"To be that personalised one-to-one relationship and a lot of that is driven off of data and that trust and emotional connection you build with these fans."

And he added: "As you start to get under the hood [at the club], you start to educate everybody that it's not just about ticket sales.

"It's about really managing all of your fans and all of your customers – whether that be ticketing or media or sponsorship."


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