Manchester United looked bereft of ideas during their Premier League defeat to Aston Villa.
Despite coming into the game at Old Trafford as comfortable favourites, the Red Devils simply couldn’t break down their opponents and ultimately succumbed to Kortney Hause’s late winner.
While, yes, Bruno Fernandes did bungle the chance to rescue a point for United with his missed penalty, a late equaliser from the hosts would, frankly, have flattered their underwhelming display.
Trouble brewing at Man Utd
As such, big questions are being asked about United from their Premier League title credentials, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s suitability as well as the divisive Scott McTominay and Fred partnership.
Marry that to the Young Boys defeat and premature Carabao Cup exit to see exactly why United fans are worried that their current plan of attack won’t harvest substantial success this season.
However, perhaps nobody has summed up the problems with United’s playing style, in particular, better than club legend Gary Neville.
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Neville breaks down United
That’s because the player-cum-pundit broke down United’s faults during his latest podcast with Sky Sports by demonstrating how they play far more as a group of individuals than their closest rivals.
“I said it even when they were winning, even when Ronaldo scored, they don’t play well enough as a team to win this league in my view,” Neville explained. “They don’t play well enough as a team.
“I think you have to be a unit in and out of possession, and when you only deliver in moments, those moments won’t go for you in certain games.
“You need patterns of play, you need a way of playing, and at this moment in time I still see a group of individuals playing in moments, with some patterns and combinations at times, but still a team where some are pretty new together – Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho – but they’ve got to come together as a team and start to define a style of play. Then you start to get results when you don’t play well.
“The way they are at the moment, they’ll always have days like Saturday against Villa. They’ll have patches of four or five games where they only win two, but then they’ll go and win 15 on the bounce and be unbeaten away from home for a while.
“That’s the type of team they are. I have called them the odd bunch, because I still look at them and think of them as a team who win games in moments.
Is Neville on to something?
It really is no wonder that footage of Neville’s analysis has gone viral across social media.
You can’t help getting the feeling that United have spent big on all these world-class players in the hope that Solskjaer can somehow cobble them together into a coherent philosophy and formation.
And while it’s too early to suggest that simply won’t be the case one day, it’s hard to disagree with Neville’s point that United just aren’t as much of a team as Liverpool, Chelsea and City. Yikes.