Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville believes that Liverpool need to exit the Champions League early if they have any chance of winning the Premier League this season.
Neville, who was speaking at Cadbury’s Premier League launch in Dublin, outlined how he felt that the vigorous Champions League and Premier League schedule of playing “Saturday then Wednesday” does not suit the “100mph” way that Liverpool play.
“Liverpool are a real problem,” began Neville, cautiously.
“I think they need to go out of the Champions League pre Christmas to have a good chance of winning the league.
“I don’t think they can challenge on both fronts with the way they play, unless they adapt and they change, the way they play at 100mph from the first minute to the last minute it’s very hard to do that Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday.”
The former United man was keen to point out that Liverpool will be a challenge to reigning Champions City, but that having a “free week” due to lack of European football would be hugely beneficial to the Merseyside club’s quest for a domestic title.
“I think it’ll be tough but if they were to go of the Champions league and they had free weeks after Christmas, Saturday to Saturday they could be a real threat this season to City. I do think they have one over on City.
“The challenge for them is can they repeat that level of energy and that level of focus every three days?, but they are a challenge this year, Liverpool.”
Liverpool spent big over the summer, bringing in quality in the likes of Fabinho, Naby Keita and Alisson but despite this Neville still believes that Guardiola’s City are intent on achieving “greatness” starting with retaining their crown this season.
“I asked Pep directly, Premier League or Champions League?” Neville said.
“Premier League came out of his mouth before we’d even finished the question.
“They seem so intent and we spoke to Kompany and Walker, they seem so intent to not drop below the mentality and standards they achieved last year.
“I think back to back titles is an obsession for them. I think they know they’re not really going to be seen as a great team and that Pep is not going to be seen as someone that has dominated English football if he doesn’t win two in two or three in three. He realises that’s the measure of greatness.”
Neville went on to mention Tottenham and Chelsea as challengers despite their lack of transfer activity and managerial teething issues respectively.
He was also, however, firm in his stance that his old club Manchester United “should be challenging” regardless of their inability to add a top quality centre back to their side during the transfer window.
“United should be challenging,” insisted Neville.
“I don’t think just because they haven’t signed a centre-back we should be sat here thinking ‘we’ll let Manchester United off the hook they shouldn’t be challenging this year.’ A club thats spent the money they’ve spent in the past few seasons and the players they’ve got.
“Manchester United have a front six of Mata, Lingard, Lukaku, Rashford, Martial and Sanchez. That’s an obscene amount of talent.
“In midfield, they’ve got Matic, Fred and Pogba. Every team in the league will be thinking ‘what a great midfield that is.’ The way in which United are being talked about this pre-season it’s as if they’ve got a load of bums playing for them.”
Manchester United begin their Premier League campaign against Leicester City on Friday night.
Gary Neville was speaking to promote Cadbury as the official snack partner of the Premier League.