Sir Alex’s reign as Man United manager brought with it an attacking mentality which characterised a high tempo, forward thinking style of play that helped United dominate English football for over two decades.
Under Louis van Gaal, United’s performances have been markedly different as risk has been replaced by pragmatism, an ethos which has helped United into third place, and Neville believes now is the time for United fans to realise entertaining football won’t always be the norm any more.
Writing in his latest column for The Telegraph, Neville said: “The time has come for Manchester United fans – me included – to let go of the Sir Alex Ferguson reign and stop judging this new era by former glories. The style of play and the names have changed, but the one person not confused by the team’s development will be Louis van Gaal.
“I’ve never been a manager, but I personally believe in attacking football, with a high tempo. If United were committed to protecting that style of play at all costs they should have appointed a manager with those beliefs. But there was no way Van Gaal was going to come to Manchester United and adopt somebody else’s philosophy.
“The idea of referencing Ferguson or saying “It’s not the Manchester United way” at every turn stylistically is not going to take Manchester United anywhere.
“Personally I would like them to play at a higher tempo. I would also like them to press high against inferior opposition, but I’ve come to the conclusion this isn’t the Van Gaal way. It’s what I believe in, what United have previously believed in and not what is in front of us now. I also think most of the new signings should be performing at a higher level.
“But, if you had told me as a fan that we would be third in the league at this point, in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and on a run of one defeat in 19 games, I would have snapped your hand off.”
Neville perfectly highlights the moral battle which United fans now find themselves in.
The style of football played under van Gaal isn’t what they’re used to but you simply can’t argue with the results as United have only lost one in the last 19 games.
The word transition is banded around in football a lot but United are going through a major one right now. Results are where van Gaal’s loyalties lie and from an entertainment perspective there is an evident a clash of interest but if it gets United back in the Champions League, nobody will be complaining come May.