Former player turned pundit, Gary Neville, has condemned the style of football currently being played under the management of Erik ten Hag.
Neville was speaking after Manchester United’s drab performance in a 1-0 loss to Newcastle, that truthfully, could have been a lot more had The Magpies taken their chances.
The Peoples Person has already commented on how the former United defender has described himself as “bored” by the current insipid style of play.
According to The Manchester Evening News (MEN), Neville has claimed that out of all the managers to take the helm at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson, only Louis van Gaal was able “to install a recognised style”.
The Sky Sports pundit’s first critique was over the way Ten Hag’s United react to adversity. He claimed, “the problem is, if you just knock them off track slightly, like Istanbul will have done, and probably won’t qualify for the next round of the Champions League, they don’t react well”.
Neville then went on to query whether the team really deserved to beat Everton 3-0 two weekends ago. The former United captain argued, “you then start to look back at the games when they have won 3-0 and question that. All I would say is, you can play poorly and win, but Manchester United have been doing that now for a long time”.
Even the most optimistic Red Devils fan would find it hard to contest this statement as despite winning five of the last seven league games, few, if any, have been dominating displays by the Mancunian side.
The former England international went on to compare Ten Hag with a fellow Dutchman, Louis van Gaal. The former defender asserted that Van Gaal “dominated football matches at United; there was a style of play. Since Van Gaal, I don’t think I have seen a pattern of play established, and that is probably seven or eight years now”.
However, Neville did add a caveat that he felt the style of football under Van Gaal was boring and not appropriate for the club or the fans. There is a little bit of counter history at work here as the former Barcelona coach was heavily critiqued during his time in England, including by Neville.
The former United number two actually stated in 2019 that Van Gaal had played “the worst style of football” he has ever seen United play.
The pundit also claimed, “no manager has been able to sort of settle on a style of play. It sort of goes something like counter-attack, moments. I have seen the same type of football irrespective of whom the manager is”.
The former full back argued that maybe the team shows it can play against weaker teams at Old Trafford but once they play genuinely top teams, “they get done”.
Finally, Neville asserted that the most damaging aspect of Ten Hag’s, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s and Jose Mourinho’s time in the dugout, is that they have failed to find a way to play despite all spending hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer window. He compared the United managers unfavourably with other Premier League coaches, who have had much less to spend on recruitment.
“[Roberto] De Zerbi at Brighton and [Ange] Postecoglou at Spurs and others like them have come in and in three or four months, they have got them playing like Real Madrid”.
It is hard to argue with Neville’s logic. In spite of spending vast amounts of money on players, no manager has been able to implement a clear style of football. Many fans would even take issue with the mention of Van Gaal.
The Peoples Person recently warned that unless Ten Hag begins to turn things around quickly, he is flirting with the sack due to a number of strange decisions he has been taking of late and the players seemingly letting another manager fall on his sword, while refusing to take responsibility themselves.
It is becoming a vicious cycle at the club and one that seems nobody is capable of breaking.