Manchester United ‘haven’t got the mentality of a champion’, says Gary Neville, with ‘odd bunch’ of players unable to keep up with Man City and Liverpool after failing to beat ‘there for the taking’ Arsenal
- Gary Neville says Manchester United don’t have the mentality of a champion
- United have struggled to keep up with Premier League leaders Manchester City
- Neville criticised United’s display v Arsenal, describing them as ‘an odd bunch’
Gary Neville has claimed that Manchester United will struggle to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool for the title as they ‘haven’t got the mentality of a champion team’.
United went top of the table last month but are now in second after some frustrating recent results.
While Liverpool and Manchester City have recent title-winning experience to call upon, United haven’t won the league since 2013.
Gary Neville has claimed that Manchester United lack the mentality of a champion
Neville also described United as ‘an odd bunch’ owing to their lack of consistency in games
While Liverpool won the title last season, Neville says United don’t have a similar mentality
Neville also described United as ‘an odd bunch’, alluding to their lack of consistency within games.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side drew 0-0 away to Liverpool before beating Fulham and then suffered a shock defeat against Sheffield United.
Following that, the Red Devils were involved in another goalless draw, this time away to Arsenal, where they seemed reluctant to attack with regularity.
United have struggled to keep up with Manchester City, who won the Premier League in 2019
United have endured some frustrating results recently, despite the efforts of Marcus Rashford
Speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast, the former United defender said: ‘I think it’s a disappointment over the three games – Liverpool, Sheffield United and Arsenal – the fact that there’s two points out of those three matches.
‘The Liverpool and Arsenal games they were there for the taking and I had this debate, I saw Roy (Keane) and Jamie (Redknapp)’s piece last night, why didn’t you show more belief?
‘They haven’t got it yet. They haven’t got the mentality of a champion team. It’s difficult to have that from being eight weeks ago thinking the manager’s in trouble after the defeat to RB Leipzig and going out of the Champions League, to all of a sudden eight weeks later transferring that mindset to ‘we’re a champion team’.
‘They’re not like Liverpool. They haven’t won the title with all those players. They’re not like Manchester City, they haven’t got titles in the bank. They haven’t got that experience to be able to draw upon.’
Neville expressed his disappointment at United not going all-out to win games in some circumstances.
Against Arsenal, for instance, it appeared that if United showed a little more attacking intent then they could have taken all three points.
However, Neville added that the situation is acceptable as United ‘aren’t quite there’ in terms of being able to challenge for the title.
He said: ‘I get the bit where you would say ‘okay, you’re there, go for it, take it, it’s a strange season’, but they just haven’t got it. We didn’t think that ten weeks ago, we didn’t think it ten days ago.
‘When we’re seeing them in games not quite going for it it’s disappointing, and I share that disappointment but it’s not surprising.
‘It’s not surprising to any of us because we didn’t think they could do it, so when they don’t do it, let’s not be shocked.
Bruno Fernandes has often impressed but it may not be enough for United to win the league
‘It’s just disappointing that they’re not quite there yet, but I accept it that they’re not quite there. I wanted at the start of the season as a Manchester United fan for them to get close to Liverpool and City.
‘If you could say to me in another two to three months they’d be sat between Liverpool and City I’d be absolutely delighted, because that is big progression.’
During his commentary of the aforementioned draw with Arsenal, Neville described Arsenal as ‘an odd bunch’.
He went on to clarify those comments, stating that United often find it difficult to perform consistently.
Neville suggested that Solskjaer’s policy of frequently rotating his side could be behind United’s lack of consistency.
He said: ‘They’ve been masses of points off them in the last two or three years, they’ve been nowhere near. When I called them an odd bunch, they’re an odd bunch because they don’t put really good performances together over long periods of matches.
‘They can play for ten minutes and then they go away for 15 minutes and the game drifts along, and then they go one down and they come back.
‘It’s just odd. You see patterns of teams develop but there are very few patterns with Manchester United and maybe that’s because they do rotate more.
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to rotate four or five times in midweek and then changes again at the weekend, and maybe that consistency just isn’t quite there.’
There were questions about Solskjaer’s future when United were knocked out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig in December, while they were beaten 6-1 at home by Tottenham earlier in the campaign.
United showed some significant signs of improvement after their Champions League exit as they started to play with more of a swagger, but they have been somewhat inhibited in some of their recent games, especially against the bigger sides.
Last season United finished third, and they will be determined to improve upon that this time around.
Neville indicated Solskjaer’s frequent rotation could be behind United’s lack of consistency
Winning the league would appear to be a tall order, but Solskjaer will be hopeful that his side will be able to regain some momentum over the next few weeks.
There is also the chance of some silverware, with United through to the fifth round of the FA Cup and still active in the Europa League.
Despite Neville’s criticism, Solskjaer stated that he was pleased with United’s approach against Arsenal, although he admitted that his team should have been more clinical in front of goal.
United had chances to win against Arsenal but seemed reluctant to push too far forwards
As reported by United’s official website, Solskjaer said: ‘I was impressed with the performance. I thought we approached the game in the right manner, came here [and] dominated the first half, had the majority of the possession, some big chances – in the second half, especially. Marcus (Rashford) had one in the first half as well, and we just lacked that little bit of clinical finishing.
‘We’ll get them going again definitely. I felt in control; of course they have a free-kick that hits the crossbar but apart from that you feel in control.
‘They had another shot that David (De Gea) saved that’s never going to bother him anyway, but we created chances and crosses as we said [we would] before the game. I thought they followed the plan and [there was] good quality by Aaron (Wan-Bissaka) down the side, Luke (Shaw) down the side – unfortunately we just couldn’t score the goal.’
Bruno Fernandes has often caught the eye for United but at times they still appear to lack balance as a team.
United will be eager to return to winning ways when they host Southampton on Tuesday.
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