'As a group of players, I don't like them' - Gary Neville in withering assessment of Manchester United
Gary Neville has called for Manchester United to be ‘cleansed' in order to have any hope of challenging Manchester City and Liverpool for titles in the future, in a withering assessment of the club's current malaise.
Neville was scathing in his assessment of the United squad in the immediate aftermath of Sunday's 1-1 draw with relegated Huddersfield Town, which ensured his former club would fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.
The former full-back reiterated his belief that United are not capable of competing for major honours while appearing as a pundit on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football, having watched rivals City move a step closer to retaining the Premier League title.
Neville called on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to oversee a clear-out of unwanted players from the dressing room but also said that decisions needed to be made within the club in order for United to move in the right direction.
"As a group of players, I don't like them. You grow to like teams and you grow to not like teams," he said. "I've never not liked a Manchester United team, I've always thought the team can win, the team can lose, the team can draw, but I really struggle with this team.
"What pains me more is that the two clubs that I dislike the most [Liverpool and Manchester City], I see them doing everything right. I see a spirit, a hunger, a resilience, a toughness, going until the end. Forget the quality, the quality is there as well.
"Ole's got a two-stage job for Manchester United now. The idea that United should be talking about winning the Champions League and the Premier League at this moment is nonsensical. Forget it.
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"The first thing they have to do is cleanse the dressing room, cleanse the club. That's from the top to the bottom, to be honest. It doesn't just start in the dressing room, above that needs to be dealt with as well. They need someone to run the football side of the club."
United are expected to appoint a technical director to assist Solskjaer with the day-to-day running of first-team affairs. Several former United players and current members of staff have been linked with the role.
Neville, however, believes that United should cast the net far wider in their search and only consider candidates who have a proven track record of delivering results within the world of football, regardless of whether they are associated with the club.
"What they should do to start with is shift the people who are in charge of the club back into the business side of the club, back down to London," he said.
"I think they should put a new football department in charge who are the 'best in class' - not who's played at the club before, got 200 games for the club, been at the club for 15 years or who's a fan - the 'best in class' football operators.
"Underneath that, then put the right recruitment people, the right technical people. Then the manager and coach will find it easier. You get the right spirit in the dressing room, the right group of people in dressing room.
"From that point then, you might then get into the top four or finish fourth and third. You might develop a team that the fans like again, that we can see here and respect professionally. From that moment, that might take two or three years. You can then go on and go for the title.
Neville added: "This is a five-year project. United aren't going to go from here and win the title in the next 12 to 18 months or two years. Think about a plan that's going to work but you have to get the right people in first."
Independent News Service