Inadvertently, Gary Neville’s assessment of Manchester United this season has supplied the ideal rebuttal to those who have claimed that Newcastle United’s recent progress is due only to money. With a hard-fought home win against Chelsea in the Premier League’s penultimate match before the World Cup break, the Magpies maintained their third-place standing.
In only one year, Eddie Howe has taken his team from relegation favourites to serious challengers for the Champions League. The new owners have spent over £200 million on player transfers to show their support for the head coach, and under his leadership, players like Miguel Almiron, Joelinton, and Fabian Schar have made significant leaps forward.
Some have tried to downplay Howe and his team’s accomplishments by pointing out that they cost money. While wealth may help, it’s not a certain way to improve things overnight, as Neville has demonstrated out by analysing his old team’s start to the season.
Because of another disappointing season and the terrible tenure of interim manager Ralf Rangnick, Erik ten Hag has been given the responsibility of rebuilding Old Trafford from the ground up. After a slow start, the Red Devils are now sixth in the standings and may move into the playoff picture by winning their game in hand.
This summer, Ten Hag was given substantial resources to help him sign star players like Antony, Casemiro, and Lisandro Martinez. However, Manchester United have had a lot of problems staying consistent this season. Neville has said that they still don’t seem like a club that has invested £200 million.
For about the same amount of time and effort, Howe has transformed Newcastle into a high-intensity pressing side intent on playing on the front foot at St. James’ Park, transforming the club from a meek low-block team into a formidable opponent. Neville continued his postgame press conference following United’s triumph against Fulham on Sunday by saying his old team hasn’t entirely adjusted to ten Hag’s tactical style.
What I would say is, he [ten Hag] will also have realised how enormous a challenge he has,” he said on the Gary Neville Podcast. More than £200 million was spent by Manchester United during the transfer window, yet they don’t appear like a club that spent that much.
It’s still a squad that has trouble maintaining consistency, both between and even during games. They still appear like a team at the moment that has some type of default setting back to the past, based on some of the stuff we saw in preseason from Erik ten Hag, the flowing football, the rhythm, and the playing down the middle.
In the middle of the pitch, you have Eriksen, Fernandes, and Casemiro. With that midfield, Manchester United ought to be able to control most of the play in football games. In particular, given that they supposedly have ball-capable defenders like Martinez and Lindelof, but really don’t.
In defensive mode, they still appear better, but I can’t say for sure why. When Erik ten Hag of Bayern Munich trains with Pep [Guardiola] and Ajax, I have no doubt that positional play and ball possession will be stressed. Yet they cannot.
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