Tuesday 17 September 2019

'I had that feeling' - Gary Neville makes a bold prediction over Liverpool's Premier League title push

Gary Neville suspects Liverpool could be ready to end their long wait for a Premier League title triumph (Mike Egerton/PA)
Gary Neville suspects Liverpool could be ready to end their long wait for a Premier League title triumph (Mike Egerton/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville predicted last month that his old club may win the Premier League title once again before Liverpool end their long wait to lift the trophy, but he admits that prophecy may be undermined by the end of this season.

Jurgen Klopp's European champions have made a perfect start to their Premier League title challenge after notching up four straight victories to top the table heading into the first international break and Neville believes they could end Manchester City's hopes of a third successive title this season.

"I was watching Liverpool at Burnley and I had that feeling," Neville told Sky Sports, after Klopp's side recorded a comfortable 3-0 win on Saturday.

"I said last year I thought they were a championship team. They are a championship team. They are playing at a level that could win the title.

"You watched them at Burnley, and they weren't brilliant in the first 20 minutes, but they go and get a goal and then a second goal.

"You talk about the clinical element of a team. The defensive bit is right, the attacking bit is right, and the midfield looks solid and experienced. They are a title-winning team and they were last year, essentially with what they did."

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Sadio Mane scored Liverpool’s second goal in the victory at Burnley last weekend (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Neville believes Manchester City made a mistake by pulling out of the race to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester, as he suggested their defensive line could be exposed after an injury to Aymeric Laporte in the 4-0 win against Brighton last weekend.

"If Laporte's injury is a serious one, it is a big problem for City," Neville suggested.

"I said a few weeks ago that I was struggling to understand why City didn't follow through on Harry Maguire with Vincent Kompany leaving the club.

"I thought Kompany won them the league in the last 10 matches of last season when he played in all those games. Forget the Leicester moment which was just spectacular, I thought his leadership held them together at a time when Liverpool were applying pressure like you wouldn't believe.

"In terms of that leader-type figure, I think Laporte has got that and if he is out long-term, I think this will cost City points.

"To be fair, there is no one better in the world at coaching than Pep Guardiola, full stop. And there is no one better at making what would be make-shift centre-backs play well.

"I watched two Champions League finals where Barcelona had Javier Mascherano and Yaya Toure playing centre-back against Manchester United.

"So, I'm not going to sit here and make the mistake of thinking Guardiola can't turn a Fernandinho or a Kyle Walker into a top centre-back because they have that much of the ball during games.

"What I would say is that if Laporte is out for a long time, I think it will cost City points because he is a dominant centre-back. I saw him in Spain three times and he's a great player. It's a real worry for City.

"Maguire would have been ideal. Manchester United did well to get him but I am surprised City didn't really go for him alongside United. Maybe they did and they just pulled out because of the money in the end or whatever it was.

"I just think with Kompany leaving, he was Belgian, but he was an old-fashioned throw your head at it centre-back in both boxes. When balls flew into the box and the pressure-built, Vincent Kompany stood tall and made sure they all left.

"That's the one downer out of the weekend for City and if I was a City fan it would worry me in the short-term and the medium-term, depending on how long he was out for."

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