Manchester United ‘not quite there’, says Gary Neville as former side’s title challenge falters

Gary Neville has said Manchester United will not win the Premier League this season following his former club’s recent slip-ups.

United led the table last month – marking the first time they had done so in January since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford in 2013 – but have stuttered in recent weeks, falling behind rivals Man City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side suffered a surprise defeat by bottom Sheffield United on 27 January before playing out a goalless draw with Arsenal, and though the Red Devils responded by humiliating nine-man Southampton 9-0, their last outing saw them twice squander leads to draw 3-3 against Everton.

READ MORE: Premier League table and fixtures – all games by date and kick-off time

As a result, United sit second in the Premier League on 45 points – five behind City, who have a game in hand.

“They’re not there yet, I know it’s disappointing, but it isn’t surprising,” Neville said of his former side’s title chances while talking to Sky Sports.

“It has been clear in the last few weeks. Drawing against Arsenal, drawing against Liverpool, losing against Sheffield United, drawing against Everton, that is not going to win you the title. And for me, I don’t expect Manchester United to win the title this year.

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“But what I would expect is them to get closer to Liverpool and City and then I expect them next year to challenge.”

Neville also addressed the balance of the team and how that could factor into a potential title charge next year.

“I expect them next year to challenge [but I] don’t expect that there will be that centre-back in the club. Maybe another full-back. The goalkeeper situation as well that needs monitoring, no doubt, right-winger will be interesting and centre-forward, depending on how [Mason] Greenwood settles in [these] last few months of this season.”

Neville also said that while United’s last result – against Everton – was disappointing, the Red Devils’ performance was not.

“I was at the game at Old Trafford on Saturday, and I’ve walked away from games this season where Manchester United have won. West Ham away, or games of that ilk, and thought: ‘What was that?’ I came away from the game on Saturday thinking it was a really good performance. Things looked like they were really connected, they looked like they were in sync with one another.

“Credit to Everton for keeping going, but it was a bizarre end to the game. But it was a real disappointment for Manchester United because I’ve seen them play it a lot worse than that, a lot of times this season, and yet come out winners.

“I thought the performance was really good. I think that the question marks then, over the centre-backs, over the goalkeeper, will start to come.

“It tells us where Manchester United are at. We knew a few weeks ago, they’re just not quite there in terms of winning the title. I never thought they were, I never thought that because the performances weren’t good enough. And there just was something missing.

“Actually on Saturday, I thought the performance was good, but then still something’s just not quite right. I didn’t expect them to win the league at the start of the season. I know that people will say: ‘He’ll say they didn’t show the belief’ – I never expected them to have the belief.”

United next face West Ham at Old Trafford in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Tuesday night.

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