Gary Neville let rip into Manchester United attackers Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James by labelling them a “joke” – before the Sky Sports pundit was forced to eat his words.
The trio, alongside the rest of their teammates, had been woeful during the opening hour’s play against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitting he wanted to substitute all 11 players at half-time of the contest.
Trailing to a John Fleck goal, United then found themselves 2-0 down when Lys Mousset added an excellent second in the 52nd minute.
That led Neville to rip into United’s defence and midfield for their efforts, with the Sky Sports commentator then turning his anger towards the lack of movement from their front three when he then labelled them a “joke”.
“The lack of from movement from Martial, Rashford and James is a joke,” Neville said on Sky Sports’ commentary. “It really is an absolute joke. All game. Nothing at all from them.
“Manchester United’s midfield is poor but you expect better from that front three.
“If you asked Chris Wilder to swap [David] McGoldrick and Mousset for Martial and Rashford, he would say no.”
However, a remarkable turnaround saw United score three times in seven minutes through first Brandon Williams and then Mason Greenwood and Rashford, with United’s front three suddenly coming alive after what had been a disappointing afternoon until that point.
Reflecting on United’s unexpected improvement, a sheepish Neville was forced to backtrack on his claims when he added: “I called them [United’s front three] a joke 15 minutes ago, that front three. Their movement was awful, non-existent.
“They weren’t even good out of possession, they weren’t closing down Sheffield United but they have quality.
“These last ten minutes they’ve come to life.”
One man who didn’t get the chance to earn redemption was defender Phil Jones, who on his first Premier League start of the season, was hauled off at half-time.
And Neville blasted the long-serving defender for his comical defending for the opener when he raged: “If ever a goal had been coming… the warning signs were there. [Harry] Maguire and Jones, they can’t handle the running of Mousset and McGoldrick in behind them.
“It’s agricultural, it’s a channel ball, the easiest ball in the world for a centre-back to deal with and Phil Jones doesn’t deal with it.
“Sheffield United get their just rewards. There’s a little bit of good fortune at the end. Jones just has a look over his shoulder and in that moment he loses control of the duel and Sheffield United, look at them – four of them in the box!
“Mousset gets his reward for following in.”
Neville added: “Manchester United’s record when they go a goal behind away from home has been poor.
“Sometimes watching Manchester United away from home, it’s almost like they’re shocked that the other team are up for it, and they’re at it and have energy.
“Look at them, getting to the ball. Mousset had already given Maguire and Jones a tough time before that – third time lucky!
“But for a centre-back… a channel ball that you can see coming from 50 yards away is such a simple ball to be able to deal with. It really is.”