Gary Neville identifies where Manchester United’s next improvements must be made to challenge for honours

Karl Matchett
·3-min read
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville (Getty Images)
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville (Getty Images)

Gary Neville has voiced his doubts that Manchester United are ready to win the Premier League this season, despite being in first place as the midway point of the campaign approaches.

The 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield kept a gap of three points between the sides, though Manchester City can go top if they win their game in hand.

For former right-back Neville, though, there remain a couple of key areas where United remain short of the last pair of league title-winners, with two transfers in particular being important for his old club to take the next step as they seek to end an eight-year wait to be champions again.

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First of all, Neville is looking for an alteration at the back, to aid a higher defensive starting line.

“I look at the game on Sunday and think: how do you go from that to becoming title winners? I think one area is that United need to push up the pitch a bit more, up in the game a bit more,” he said on the Gary Neville podcast.

“If you look at Liverpool, even with Fabinho and Henderson in defence, they are well up the pitch, on the halfway line.”

United spent much of the game at Anfield in their own half, attempting fast-paced counter-attacks, but largely blocking off the flanks in a defensive block first and foremost.

Neville paid tribute to the job done in that regard by Paul Pogba, playing out of position on the right side of midfield, but said a specialist for the role is important to bring a greater attacking threat.

“One more area is that the right-hand side is a problem. Juan Mata has played there, Dan James has, Paul Pogba has, Marcus Rashford has, Van de Beek's played there, Greenwood's played there, and nobody has cemented it.

"We know Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted that right-wing position filled in the summer, and he didn't get it, and it's just posing a little bit of a problem.

“If there was a goalscoring right winger in that squad today, with Rashford and Martial, that I think would be a difference. So a centre-back that gets them up the pitch that 10 yards, and a right winger, they are the two positions I'd focus on.”

Referencing the leap Liverpool made from being challengers to title-winners, Neville made the point that big-impact signings in specific areas can boost the rest of the squad.

"We know Liverpool's problems were a centre-back and a goalkeeper, and they signed Virgil van Dijk and Alisson.

"Manchester United just need that little bit of belief, and a couple extra players, and they're not as far away as it looks if City and Liverpool stay at this standard and don't jump back up to that 100-point standard."

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