EPL

Man Utd need a defender, not Sancho! Neville doubts title chances with Maguire-Lindelof pairing

By Sports Desk September 19, 2020

Gary Neville has warned Manchester United they need a new centre-back more than they need Jadon Sancho after a horror show in their opening Premier League game.

The former United captain said the current side stand no chance of winning the Premier League with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof at the heart of their defence.

His brutal verdict was delivered as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team were beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday.

After finishing third in the Premier League last season following a 14-match unbeaten run in the competition, United began 2020-21 with high hopes of another lofty finish.

They want to bring Borussia Dortmund's exciting England winger Sancho to the club, but Neville says their priority should lie elsewhere.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: "You can talk about Jadon Sancho all you like, but until they get a centre-back in that can run and defend one on one, you're never going to win the league.

"They're not going to win the league with that centre-back pairing. They have to get a mobile, quick, dominant centre-back in alongside Lindelof or Maguire."

United were back on domestic duty five weeks after their 2019-20 Europa League trophy hopes were ended by a semi-final defeat to Sevilla.

Neville said United looked "knackered", "so leggy it's untrue" and "well short of Crystal Palace" in the fitness stakes.

Lindelof, the Sweden defender who is in his fourth season at United, was picked apart by Neville for his part in allowing Wilfried Zaha to scythe through and score his second goal and Palace's third.

"He's just not strong enough there, Lindelof," said Neville. "It's a 50-50; he's weak."

Neville questioned what United's response would be to their slow start, in light of many of their rivals making statement signings.

"The usual thing for Manchester United, on the back of something like this, is to react - go and sign a player or two to quell the Twitter and social media voice that will absolutely simmer and boil," Neville said.

"It's been simmering all week I think, particularly with Liverpool doing business today, Chelsea's done it in the last few weeks, [Gareth] Bale's going to Tottenham.

"Why are Manchester United not signing the players they need to bolster this squad - a talented squad?"

Related items

  • Gomez-Matip partnership is not rocket science - Klopp Gomez-Matip partnership is not rocket science - Klopp

    Jurgen Klopp is confident centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will have little issue forming an effective partnership in the absence of Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk.

    Van Dijk is set to miss at least the majority of the current campaign after suffering knee ligament damage in a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during last week's Merseyside derby.

    Matip missed the midweek win over Ajax, meaning Fabinho stepped into defence, but Klopp's options are limited moving forward.

    Dejan Lovren left at the end of last season, leaving Gomez and Matip as the club's only remaining natural centre-backs.

    Klopp expects the duo to adapt and "fight together", although they are yet to start alongside each other in this role due to Van Dijk's dominance.

    "The reason for that is because I think Virg played pretty much all the games and one of them was injured," Klopp said.

    "As long as Dejan Lovren was still here and Dejan was in that moment fit, [he could play].

    "I didn't know they had never played together, I didn't know that, but they can play together – not a shadow of a doubt.

    "As I said for the Fabinho and Joe pairing, they need to get used to each other and the full-backs need to get used to them. The more stability you have in this line, the better.

    "We never had that really – especially one position was always with a lot of changes.

    "They will fight together, there is no doubt about that. It is football and it didn't become rocket science overnight. We can help them with information but then they will get tested every three days – that's the situation."

    Meanwhile, Klopp was asked for his thoughts on Marcus Rashford's work campaigning to end child hunger.

    The Manchester United forward spent Friday promoting offers of free meals from restaurants around the United Kingdom on his social media pages after the government voted against maintaining a scheme to serve this purpose through school holidays.

    "It's just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something and don't show any sign of proper leadership, that a boy grown up in difficult circumstances, blessed with a sensational talent obviously, never forgot his roots and where he is coming from," Klopp said.

    "That he has to do it then is a bit of a shame but is wonderful as well. I hope his mother is really proud of him. I don't know him but even I am.

    "He plays for United, which makes it really tricky. But it's really an absolutely wonderful, wonderful thing."

  • Guardiola reiterates defence of Aguero over Massey-Ellis incident Guardiola reiterates defence of Aguero over Massey-Ellis incident

    Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reiterated his defence of Sergio Aguero over an incident that saw the Argentina striker put his arm around assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.

    Aguero placed a hand on the female official during City's 1-0 win over Arsenal last week and drew widespread criticism on social media and from pundits.

    Match of the Day analysts Alan Shearer and Ian Wright were among those to condemn the action, while ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville called on Aguero to apologise.

    Guardiola defended Aguero in the aftermath of the game and once again backed his striker, who he said would have said sorry had Massey-Ellis complained.

    "I didn't speak to Sergio about this, but I'm pretty sure if she felt bad, he will apologise without a problem," Guardiola said.

    "All the people looking from outside judge, but I know the intention from Sergio. Sergio put his hands in a normal way, like he does many times to me, on or off the pitch.

    "Or when I hug him, when there is a substitution, or when sometimes he touches the referee as well or an opponent.

    "If I'd seen some aggression, maybe. But I think it was normal as I know him perfectly. He's been a huge star in the world, but he's humble, one of the nicest people I've met.

    "What is important is his intention, and his intention was normal, to talk to her in a normal way. It was not a bad word, it was just normal."

    Guardiola likened the reaction to the one Bernardo Silva received for a controversial social media post involving team-mate Benjamin Mendy last year.

    Silva apologised after posting a picture of a cartoon character promoting a chocolate brand in Spain next to a photo of Mendy with a caption reading: "Guess who?"

    The apparent reference to Mendy's race led to a one-match ban and a £50,000 fine, while Silva was ordered to undergo educational training.

    "It's the same with what happened with Bernardo. I know him perfectly well, it was a joke and this was a normal situation," Guardiola added.

    "I know perfectly, it's like Bernardo and what he had with Mendy. They are brothers and he was suspended."

  • Bamford emulates Cantona with hat-trick as Leeds hand Villa first defeat Bamford emulates Cantona with hat-trick as Leeds hand Villa first defeat

    Patrick Bamford emulated Eric Cantona as he continued his prolific start to the season with a hat-trick in Leeds United's 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Friday.

    Leeds striker Bamford opened the scoring in the Premier League clash at Villa Park in the 55th minute when he pounced on the loose ball after Emiliano Martinez saved an effort from Rodrigo Moreno. 

    The 27-year-old then lashed a stunning 20-yard drive into the top-right corner for his second and showed great feet and composure in the box before digging out a fine finish to complete a 19-minute treble. 

    Bamford's tally for the season now stands at six, with Cantona (1992-93) the only other Leeds player to have reached that amount after the first six games of a Premier League campaign. 

    The former Chelsea forward became the ninth Leeds player to net a Premier League hat-trick and only the second for the club to score in each of their opening three away games in a top-flight season, after Gordon Hodgson in 1937-38. 

    Marcelo Bielsa's side handed Villa their first Premier League defeat of the season and ended an eight-game unbeaten run for Dean Smith's side that stretched back to last term. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.