Former Manchester United right back and current Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville believes Manchester United can win the title this season.
It has been 3 years since United had a sniff of the Premier League title, but with the “arrogance” of Zlatan Ibrahmovic, Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho, Neville thinks United could well be in the running.
Neville says the title race is wide open and as many as 5/6 teams can win it. But the Englishman has chosen United as his pre-season shout after this summers arrivals.
“I genuinely am confused over what is going to happen – I think everyone is – and that’s not a bad thing. For 20 years we could almost predict what was going to happen before a ball was kicked, but at this moment we basically don’t know. I will say Manchester United for the title with Arsenal in second, Manchester City in third and Liverpool fourth.” said Neville.
When asked if he was excited about the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the Premier League, the right back had this to say:
“Yes. In the last three or four years, Manchester United have lacked stature on the pitch, they have lacked arrogance and they have lacked the players who have the balls to be real Manchester United stars. In signing Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba they have players of stature and arrogance – in a good way – and, historically, United have always needed players with big personalities.”
“Ibrahimovic is an important signing for Manchester United. They are not getting him in his peak or in his best years, but in the last two or three years the club has deteriorated in performance and also in entertainment, which is a fundamental at United. Now they have someone who can keep you on the edge of your seat week after week and deliver special moments. That is something that’s required at that club.”
Marcus Rashford might be a cause for concern. The teenage wonderkid burst onto the scenes last season and excites all that watch him, but many are concerned that Ibrahimovic’s arrival may hinder his development – something Neville disagrees with.
“I think he’ll help. When the ball goes into him it sticks and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and someone like Rashford will benefit from him being there. Young players tend to be more risky in their play and more experienced players offer more control and maturity. They know when to take a touch or when to lay the ball off first time.”
“Rashford will learn about protecting the ball, about professionalism, about dealing with the pressure in a good way. Ibrahimovic will be a massive player for Manchester United, not necessarily in terms of his own performance but in terms of his aura and what United require from a personality.”
Neville then pointed out that Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho will have a similar, positive impact.
“Our league has struggled to entice Grade-A players and has struggled to keep hold of them because Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have taken most of them off us – so for Manchester United to get Paul Pogba is not only a big moment for United, but for the Premier League. He has got arrogance and believes in himself. He left Manchester United the first time around, despite being under pressure to stay, and it takes a lot to leave when you are wanted by Sir Alex Ferguson.”
“You’ve got to have a level of arrogance to do that and some people would see it as a negative, but I see it as a positive. He’s got complete belief and he’ll come back in the same way. He knows the club and the city and he is a player of stature, belief and arrogance. He won’t go into any game thinking he is inferior. In the last two or three years, United have lacked stature and personality on the pitch but these new signings have that, which is important.”
[Quotes via Sky Sports]