'It isn't good enough' - Gary Neville gives his New Year assessment of Man United
Gary Neville admits Manchester United’s current position in the Premier League ‘isn’t good enough’ - yet he is pleased with the progress being made under manager Jose Mourinho.
United reached the half-way point in the season sitting in sixth place in the table, 12 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea and seemingly out of the title race long before Christmas.
Despite that gloomy position, former United defender Neville suggests the club’s supporters are happier now than they were watching Louis van Gaal’s dour team of last season.
“If I speak as a neutral first, where United are at this time isn’t good enough,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“However, as a fan over the last couple months, it’s better. There’s more personality, guts and strength. Last season or the season before you were watching Manchester United and thinking: “This isn’t Manchester United, this isn’t what they’re about.”
“We were watching a passive, boring, insipid performance, now there’s counter attack, excitement. Paul Pogba is getting better and better, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic is getting better and better. There’s a lot more mobility, and in the wide areas there’s a big change.
“They’ve stumbled across a back four; they’re getting better and have shown they have some grit, determination and fight.”
Neville picked out Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool as the most likely challengers to Chelsea in the second half of the campaign, as he predicted the title favourites could be set for a stumble after a 13-game winning streak that has put them in prime position to win the title.
“You look at their spine at the back and midfield, and then come to Costa, who is an outstanding centre forward, brilliant to watch,” he added.
“You see that the hunger is back for (Diego) Costa, the fitness, having those weeks to recover and prepare.
“They’ve got everything you’d want, shape, structure, spine, resilience, experience and outstanding players in the right areas with match winners.
“Everything is going for them, but the others have to believe that there will be a blip, they will blink, and it could happen to them. Like Hazard getting injured, Costa getting injured, for a long time.
“At the moment, it doesn’t look that way, but the others have to believe that. Chelsea look strong, they look like they won’t make a mistake, but they will make a mistake. There is plenty of time for it to go wrong, but the others have to believe it and be consistent.”