Gary Neville insists Manchester United are on the right track under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite their difficult start to the season.
Since their opening day victory over Chelsea, United have been held to draws at Wolves and Southampton and suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
However, Neville – speaking on – explains why he thinks his former side are heading in the right direction under Solskjaer and why his former teammate needs time to take the club back to the top.
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‘United on the right track’
When you have a young team like the one at Manchester United, there are a lot of players who are developing and trying to improve themselves. I think they are going to get a lot of results like the ones at Wolves and Southampton where they actually do quite well in the game.
I thought they performed okay against Southampton but they just don’t have that clinical element which would’ve allowed them to go on and win the game.
There is an element of frustration from United fans because of where the club have been. There’s still that recent history of big success under Sir Alex Ferguson but there’s been six or seven years now since that. There’s now an element of frustration building, real frustration, that they are not on the right track.
I think they are on the right track because the first thing United have to do, they have to have a group of people in that changing room that want to be there.
Forget how talented they are.
Sir Alex Ferguson came down from Aberdeen in 1986 and he got rid of some of the most talented players in the squad in an attempt to change the culture.
He was given a long time to do it. Think of Norman Whiteside, who was let go. Paul McGrath was also let go. They were some of the most talented players in the squad, but he culturally wanted to try and change what was happening.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to play the long game.
To play the long game he is going to need the support from up above. He’s going to need really strong leadership over the next two or three seasons to be able to have those four or five transfer windows that he needs, not just to actually get people in the dressing room all facing the same direction, but to get the quality in that’s needed.
You need quality to go with the alignment in the dressing room.
What Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have done at Manchester City and Liverpool, it took time to get right.
It took Guardiola 12 months, three transfer windows, because he had a better squad in the first place. It’s taken Klopp three or four years to affect the culture fully and get a team fully in what he would say is his style, his culture and what he wants to do.
It does take time. Solskjaer is working more with a squad like the one Klopp picked up at Liverpool than the one Guardiola inherited at City. From that point of view this is going to be a long game at Old Trafford and it’s going to be frustrating at times.
There are going to be results like Southampton, Wolves and Crystal Palace along the way, but when you watch the team a lot of the principles are correct.
They seem to be playing the right way. You see Daniel James score that goal and you see the way in which they are trying to play.
The style of it is right. The bones are there but there’s still a very long way to go, and it’s going to be bumpy along the way.
Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, I think the same for Frank Lampard at Chelsea.
We are seeing Lampard try to change what has been a machine for the last 15 years at Chelsea. You look at this team now and it has less experience. It has less know-how and it has more youth and immaturity about it and with that comes more mistakes and some bad results.
Both Ole and Frank are young managers but having made those decisions to appoint them it doesn’t seem right that they’re not going to go with them and back them with what they are trying to do, because they are trying to change the culture at both clubs.
If you are trying to do what they’re doing at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, which is bringing through academy-type players, you are going to have to give them time.
That’s the big question for both Chelsea, and Manchester United. They are going to need strong leadership, they are going to have to withstand some pressure, particularly on social media, and stand firm. They need to say: “We know what’s being built here, it’s right and we’re going to go with it.”
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