Gary Neville wary of Manchester City's Champions League chances

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Former Manchester United defender turned pundit Gary Neville believes Manchester City are an ageing team who are close to being past their peak and in danger of missing out on Champions League glory.

The Citizens succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Bayern Munich to get their Champions League campaign up and running in the worst way possible.


Still they are better off than Manchester United, who failed to qualify for the Champions League this season after a disastrous Premier League campaign under former boss David Moyes last time round.

Manchester City have the oldest squad in the league with an average age of 28.9 - and Neville believes that puts them at a disadvantage with time running out for them to grab Europe's top prize.


"Looking at them now, and where they are in their development, I feel this team is in a dangerous position," he wrote in his column in the Telegraph.

"Before Wednesday’s game I said: “For this team the time is now.” I looked at the line-up and felt they were growing old together. Football allows that less and less. The fruit is ripe - but you had better eat it quickly, because it’s going to go off.

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"The value of those players will drop quite sharply in the next 18 months because everyone will know they are going over the edge. People used to say of [Sir Alex] Ferguson: “Why has he sold this or that player when he’s still performing really well?” Answer: because he knew what was coming."


Manchester City have won two titles in the last three years - either side of two Manchester United title wins. Neville also believes there is a problem with balance in Manuel Pellegrini's side which means he is unable to play some of his best players.

"City’s problem relates to three pairings: Agüero and Dzeko, Silva and Nasri, and Touré and his partner in midfield," he continued.

"Here’s why. If you play Toure with a partner in central midfield, I don’t think you can play Silva and Nasri. If you play Dzeko and Aguero, I don’t think you can play Yaya and a partner in midfield. If you play Nasri and Silva, I don’t think you can play the other two pairings, which is why, I believe, Pellegrini left Agüero out in Munich.

"I think he recognises that the physical capacity and/or age of the team is a looming problem for him, and that he can no longer play all of them in the same side."

While Manchester City tackle their problems, Manchester United have plenty of their own to deal with. They have only just won their first game of the season against QPR last weekend and take on another newly-promoted side in Leicester on Sunday having had the week to relax.


They are backed up by a summer spending spree worth £150 million which saw the likes of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria arrive at Old Trafford. The summer window also saw home grown players like Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck leave, which prompted accusations that Manchester United were abandoning their policy of relying on young players in order to buy in big stars.

Neville concedes that the times have changed and that Manchester United have had to adapt to the new age of spending in order to stand a chance of getting back to the top.

"At United, we used to look at Chelsea and City a little arrogantly and say "we would never do it like that". The Premier League however would be a lot less interesting without a competitive City and Chelsea.


"Whether you like capitalism or not, Financial Fair Pair is, to me, a restraint of trade. It was brought in to stop clubs being ruined by spending beyond their means. I find that moral principle hard to argue with. Driving clubs to bankruptcy is despicable. However there is another way.

"When Sheikh Mansour arrived I wondered how he would be seen. The massive investment not only in the club but the community and economy of east Manchester has improved the life of the city.

"When I drive through there the area is unrecognisable from 10 years ago. As a Manchester United man I may not always want them to win a football match but Manchester has benefitted hugely from City’s renaissance."

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Gary Neville
Manchester City
Manchester United
Premier League

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