Gary Neville has panned Manchester United’s summer signings by saying he ‘never thought for one second’ they’d be good enough to help challenge Manchester City and Arsenal.
United spent almost £200million on new recruits including Rasmus Hojlund, Mason Mount and Andre Onana in a bid to continue the positive momentum from Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge.
But after three defeats from their opening five Premier League games – the latest a dismal 3-1 home loss to Brighton – it’s questionable whether United are any better off.
Old Trafford legend Neville believes United are no stronger despite the enormous outlay and insists they should have moved for Declan Rice or Harry Kane to help them bridge the gap.
‘I was worried at the start of the season,’ the Sky Sports pundit said on the Gary Neville Podcast.
Gary Neville has suggested Manchester United’s summer signings – including £72m striker Rasmus Hojlund – aren’t good enough to bridge the gap to Manchester City and Arsenal
United also spent big on midfielder Mason Mount (left) and goalkeeper Andre Onana (right)
Gary Neville said he ‘never thought for one second’ that United’s summer signings would help them bridge the gap to Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premier League
Your browser does not support iframes.
‘There was this feeling Manchester United had got their business done early in the transfer window and that was good, but I was concerned the players they had brought in wouldn’t improve them from last season.
‘I never thought for one second they would challenge Manchester City and Arsenal from the players that they brought in.
‘That would have needed a Harry Kane-type signing or Declan Rice, as an example. They didn’t have the money to do those types of signings.
‘They’re not very good at the moment. There’s no hysteria. I went to the Brighton game as a fan thinking, ‘Could I be surprised?’
‘You’re always optimistic. I have never walked over that forecourt at Old Trafford and not been optimistic because that’s the job of a football fan going to any ground where you support your team.
‘But 72,000 Manchester United fans in that stadium, who are informed and know Brighton and know their current team, I don’t think any of them were surprised at what they saw.
‘Before the game there was that feeling of, ‘Let’s see what happens’ and ‘take a point’, those sort of comments speaking to people as you go in.’
Brighton proved far superior to United, with goals by Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro handing them a fourth consecutive win over the Reds in the league.
United captain Bruno Fernandes walks off dejected after Saturday’s dismal loss to Brighton
The pressure is already mounting on manager Erik ten Hag to turn their fortunes around
United summer spend
Rasmus Hojlund (from Atalanta) – £72m
Mason Mount (Chelsea) – £60m
Andre Onana (Inter Milan) – £47m
Altay Bayindir (Fenerbahce) – £4.2m
Jonny Evans (free agent) – Free
Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina) – loan
Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham) – loan
United paid an initial £64m – potentially rising to £72m – for Danish striker Hojlund, £55m for England midfielder Mount and £43.8m for Cameroon goalkeeper Onana.
They also signed back-up goalkeeper Altay Bayindir and brought back veteran defender Jonny Evans, as well as bringing in midfielder Sofyan Amrabat and left-back Sergio Reguilon on loan.
But after defeats to Tottenham, Arsenal and Brighton already this season, there is considerable doubt United have made any forward progress as a result.
They were linked to both Rice and Kane, who ultimately move to Arsenal and Bayern Munich respectively for £100m-plus fees, but were shackled by Financial Fair Play considerations.
United’s only wins so far – against Wolves and Nottingham Forest – were highly unconvincing and they now open their Champions League campaign with a daunting visit to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Neville fears that Ten Hag, in common with many of his predecessors, has too much influence over transfer policy, which has led to a drop-off in overall quality.
He added: ‘What I am hoping at the moment is that this is just a difficult start to the season and it’s not a repeat of what we have seen previously, where it became challenging for [Jose] Mourinho, for [Louis] Van Gaal, for [David] Moyes, and obviously for [Ralf] Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
‘So, I hope that this is not the beginning of that. There is no Manchester United fan I know, that has got a brain, that is most angry with Erik ten Hag.
Neville believes United needed a Harry Kane-type signing to truly transform their fortunes – but the England captain signed for Bayern Munich instead
Declan Rice was another player Neville name-checked but he joined Arsenal from West Ham
Man United fixtures
Premier League unless stated
Wednesday Bayern Munich (A)
Champions League group stage
Saturday Burnley (A)
September 26 Crystal Palace (H)
Carabao Cup third round
September 30 Crystal Palace (H)
October 3 Galatasaray (H)
Champions League group stage
‘What they want really is a change of ownership and they want stability and they want a group of players that are committed.
‘And I don’t think the players aren’t committed. I just wonder how good they are. That is my concern.
‘The club has been pulled from pillar to post over this last 10 or 11 years from a sporting point of view because of their manager’s wishes on recruitment. And it’s happened again.
‘They are Erik ten Hag’s players, those are the ones he wanted, Jose brought in the lads that he wanted, like [Romelu] Lukaku and [Paul] Pogba and those lads, Van Gaal went for a very technical type of players, loads of left-footed centre backs and left-backs and stuff like that.
‘They have all brought in who they wanted to bring in. I thought this time there would be a stronger sporting project behind the scenes that would enable Manchester United to bring in a group of players.
‘But Manchester United have again allowed the manager to influence the signings and that is my concern with the club. They have got no strength at the very top.’
Source of data and images: dailymail