Gary Neville says one area of the pitch has become a problem for Manchester United and says they need two players to cement themselves as title contenders.
United earned a goalless draw with champions Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday and almost won it with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba wasting the game’s best two chances in the second half.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men limited Liverpool to very few scoring opportunities and the Norwegian thought it was “an opportunity missed”.
It was Liverpool though who dominated possession (66%) and much of that was deep inside United territory. It left Solskjaer’s men feeding on scraps and trying to play on the break.
And Nevilles concluded afterwards that Solskjaer is a couple of players short in his squad.
“I look at this game and think where can you go from being [challengers] to being title winners. One thing would be Manchester United need to push up the pitch a bit more, to be up in the game a little bit more,” he said on The Gary Neville Podcast.
“If you look at Liverpool, even with Fabinho and [Jordan] Henderson, they’re well up the pitch, they’re playing on the halfway line. You look at Manchester United, they’re just playing a little bit deeper.
“And I think when they come here and play 10 yards further up the pitch. Maybe in a couple of seasons or next season when maybe they’ve got another centre-half in the club who can give them that confidence to do so. And at that point that’s when you’ll start to see them doing it.
“The other bit is that right-hand side is emerging… well, not emerging, it is a problem.
“There’s no doubt. Juan Mata has played there, [Daniel] James has played there, [Paul] Pogba has played there, [Marcus] Rashford’s played there, [Donny] Van de Beek’s played there, [Mason] Greenwood’s played there.
“That’s six players that I can think of and I’ve probably missed out some that have played in that position. No-one’s cemented it.
“And we know that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted that right wing position filled in the summer. He didn’t get it, and it’s just posing a little bit of a problem.
Right winger required
“Because I think if there was a goalscoring right winger in that squad today, with Rashford and Martial – and maybe Greenwood could have been the person but he’s just not quite there yet – that I think would potentially be a difference.
“So a centre-back that gets them up the pitch that extra 10 yards and maybe that right winger. There’s still a question mark over whether the centre-forwards are good enough. But at the moment those are the two positions I would focus most on.
“We know Liverpool’s problems were a goalkeeper and a centre-back and they got Alisson and they got Van Dijk.
“Manchester United just need that little bit of belief, couple of extra players. They’re not as far away as it looks if Liverpool and Manchester City stay at this standard and don’t jump back up to that 100-points-a-season standard which is incredible.”