Ex-Manchester United captain Gary Neville believes his former club need to sign a centre-back and a right-winger if they are to be seen as genuine contenders for the title.
Speaking after the 0-0 draw against Liverpool last night, Neville said he believes that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is short of a centre-half with pace who can allow United to play a higher line:
“I look at this game and think where can you go from being [challengers] to being title winners. One thing would be Manchester United need to push up the pitch a bit more, to be up in the game a little bit more, And I think when they come here and play 10 yards further up the pitch – maybe in a couple of seasons or next season when maybe they’ve got another centre-half in the club who can give them that confidence to do so – at that point that’s when you’ll start to see them doing it.”
Neville also commented about the lack of options on the right-wing. A number of players have been utilised in that role this season, and the Sky Sports pundit feels someone (possibly Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho) may be required:
“The other bit is that right-hand side is emerging… well, not emerging, it is a problem. There’s no doubt. Juan Mata has played there, [Daniel] James has played there, [Paul] Pogba has played there, [Marcus] Rashford’s played there, [Donny] Van de Beek’s played there, [Mason] Greenwood’s played there. That’s six players that I can think of and I’ve probably missed out some that have played in that position and no-one’s cemented it. And we know that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted that right-wing position filled in the summer, he didn’t get it, and it’s just posing a little bit of a problem.”
Neville’s insight, in particular, about the lack of speed at the back is bang on. United were pushed back into their own penalty box at times in the first half, and to be braver with the defensive line, you need a centre-half who is quick and able to track runners with their pace.
It isn’t surprising then that United have been linked with a number of centre-backs in recent months and it is likely something that will be revisited next summer, along with Sancho.