Gary Neville insists Manchester United are not genuine title challengers to Liverpool, but insists anything is possible ahead of Sunday’s huge clash at Liverpool.
However, it is United who head into Sunday’s clash between the sides as top dogs after Tuesday’s win over Burnley. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer certainly afforded himself a smile as he ran the rule over Paul Pogba’s display.
United remain unbeaten on their travels in the Premier League this season. And a win over the defending champions would send United six points clear at the top.
A clearly delighted Neville told United to enjoy the moment as he discussed their title prospects on Sky Sports.
“It’s a big win,” Neville said. “I think obviously with what was at stake, to go top of the league before Sunday it feels like a big moment.
“Six to eight weeks ago you’d never think of Manchester United being anywhere near this position.
“And yet now they find themselves with something building, a spirit growing.
“You could see with the way they were celebrating with each other that there’s a resilience which has built off some performances that haven’t been at times great away from home. But they’ve won when they haven’t been at their best and you get confidence from that.
“Now they’re starting to play better. The players they’ve got that are really top quality are starting to show that in a more consistent fashion.
“It’s a little more exciting and I’m really going to enjoy these next few days.
“It’s going to be a huge build-up to the game on Sunday. Liverpool, the best team in the league last season by a stretch. I think probably eight weeks ago, everybody’s absolute certainties to win the league.
“I still don’t think we’re veering away from that too much and it isn’t a moment to get carried away. We know full well how quickly this season has turned around. It was Chelsea three or four weeks ago, City were having a really bad time and now they’re coming to the fore.
“Liverpool looked strong and Manchester United looked dead seven or eight weeks ago.”
Neville tells United fans to enjoy the moment
Neville insists United’s progress should make their fans proud.
“Now it’s all turning round for different teams and different moments. It could easily turn the other way in three or four weeks.
“But it shouldn’t stop Manchester United fans getting carried away in the next couple of days because why shouldn’t they? It’s been a really difficult few years. There’s been times where it’s looked like United are a million miles away from the top of the league.
“To be top and three points clear of a really good Liverpool side in January is something that isn’t expected. If you’d said this at the start of the season to any commentator, pundit, Manchester United fan or even the Manchester United manager…
“This season it was about getting close to Liverpool and Manchester City and they’re doing that. That is what success was deemed to be at the start of the season so we shouldn’t change away from that.
“I don’t think anyone is saying Manchester United are going to win the league. But the fact that they’re in a title race… wow, I never would have imagined it. You’ve got to give credit to the players because I’ve been critical along with a lot of other people in the last two, three, four years. The standard has been well below what the club and fans expect. But they’re doing really good things at this moment in time.”
Neville tells United to believe
When asked if he thinks United can genuinely win the title, Neville had a message in these crazy times.
“It’s a strange season. If you’d said to me at the start of the season, all of us would have said no – no chance, they’re nowhere near the consistency levels.
“But as I sit here tonight, why shouldn’t Manchester United fans believe and why shouldn’t this team believe. You look at that frontline of Rashford, [Edinson] Cavani, [Anthony] Martial, [Mason] Greenwood.
“You look at the midfield four, you look at Fernandes, who wasn’t maybe at his best tonight, but then Pogba steps up.
“They’ve got some fantastic players and other teams aren’t in great moments.
“I think City at this moment in time are the ones that maybe are just cool and calm and nobody is really talking about them.
“But City are starting to hit really good form themselves and that may be the real danger. And when City are at the best, as United found out last week, United are still a little bit below.”
Neville turns screw on Liverpool
Neville suggested it would be Liverpool feeling the heat going into Sunday’s huge Anfield clash.
“The next few days it’s time to have a little bit of fun,” the pundit continued.
“I don’t think it’ll be a comfortable few days for Liverpool. I don’t think they expected Manchester United to be anywhere near them or see them as a competitor or a threat this season. That’s why it can be a little bit of fun for Manchester United fans.
“But I also feel these players believe they can have a really special season. No fans in, it’s odd, it’s changing every single week and you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“There’s an element of unpredictability to the season and Manchester United could exploit that.”