Former Manchester United players have not been shy in criticising the team since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, with Gary Neville once again sticking the boot in to his former club this past week. The former United captain, who retired from the game in 2011 and is now a pundit for Sky Sports, frequently makes his feelings clear on the club and its current situation, and has not shied away from taking Jose Mourinho and his underperforming players to task. Now, with a new campaign having begun after a summer of discontent, the ex-right back is back to offer his opinion on the Portuguese’s attempts to get United back to the summit of English football.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in an interview conducted this week, Neville is less-than enthused at the current state of United’s style of play.
“Ajax, Manchester United and Barcelona are the three bastions of European football in terms of style of play. United have always played 4-4-1-1, 4-4-2, with two wide players. It’s ingrained in the club. Don’t change, don’t make short-term decisions,” said Neville speaking on the Second Captains podcast in quotes carried by the Manchester Evening News.
“The fans weren’t happy, the stadium was starting to have empty seats and then they think, ‘right, we need to win’ and they bring in Jose Mourinho, who likes powerful, robust, strong players.
“Out went nearly all those 11 and Mourinho brings in Lukaku, Matic, Fred, Bailly, a wave of players who suit his style. Let’s say Mauricio Pochettino comes in next – he likes hungry 23, 24-year-olds, he likes pushing up the pitch and playing high, he likes players who can press from the front.
“How many Manchester United forwards do you see that run about like the Tottenham ones? Mourinho is happy to sit back a bit deeper and have a more robust, physical player. As a Manchester United fan it’s painful to watch.”
Given how United limped to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City last Friday with a performance that lacked fluency or any sort of sustained attack, it’s not hard to see where Neville’s frustrations come from. Here’s hoping this weekend’s trip to Brighton will be a slightly better affair to watch.