“I think in top teams nowadays, and certainly the top Manchester United teams l played in, they go up the pitch that extra five yards.”
Gary Neville has identified Manchester United’s defence as an area they must improve if they are to challenge Manchester City and Liverpool and get to the next level.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Neville said that United’s defence has been solid, but they need to push up their defensive line in order to be more competitive in big matches.
“The next point is the defence,” Neville said.
“The back four have gone from being weak 18 months ago, and l still think there is a weakness there, but they have become more solid and stopped conceding goals.
“That’s not just the defence because the goalkeeper is playing better and McTominay and Fred are doing a really good job.
“But they are having to defend really deep, particularly in big games.”
🗣"I am not going to sit here and defend them when I don't need to defend them"@Carra23 & @GNev2 is getting heated about Manchester United's performance against Liverpool at Anfield pic.twitter.com/7q68m7mWW7
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 18, 2021
Manchester City / Liverpool.
The former England defender compared this current group of players to the United side Neville played with under Alex Ferguson as well as the current Manchester City and Liverpool teams.
“I think in top teams nowadays, and certainly the top Manchester United teams l played in, they go up the pitch that extra five yards,” Neville continued.
“It makes your stomach churn a little bit where you think, ‘There’s a bit of space in behind me’.
“But this back four haven’t got the personality or character to get up that extra five yards and squeeze the game. That bit will be the thing that changes the most in terms of mentality.”
However, the former Valencia manager admits that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might need a change of personal at centre-back if United want to play that way going forward.
“Ole has to take responsibility for it,” he explained.
“He might be thinking that with Lindelof and Maguire, he can’t get the team up the pitch a little bit more.
“They have to get up the pitch a lot quicker.”