Gary Neville has claimed that the Manchester United midfield is too slow this season, with their lack of dynamism and speed in attack to blame for their poor start to the Premier League.
The former United defender feels that their inability to dominate games like they have done in recent years is allowing opposition sides to recover, and is also resulting in managers deploying a more attacking line-up to target this weakness.
David Moyes looked on from the sidelines on Saturday as his team conceded a late Adam Lallana goal to allow Southampton to earn a deserved 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, meaning they have won just three of their opening eight league games, having already got off to their worst start since 1978.
And TV pundit Neville has offered his analysis on where the problem lies, with a lack of speed in the centre of the park to blame.
“There is still a sense that David Moyes is finding out about his players and his own way in the job,” Neville explained in the Daily Mail. “The key for me is that the speed of their game through the midfield is not quick enough.
“United have always been about those relentless waves of attacks, sustained for good periods without counter which would eventually overwhelm the opposition. Because this isn’t happening opponents have time to rest and recover between attacks.
"And it means teams are perhaps playing a few more attacking players against United and going into games with a bit more confidence than usual. Southampton certainly showed that in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Moyes made just one first team signing in the summer, shelling out £27.5m for former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini as he attempted to address the lack of depth in an area that has drawn attention in recent years.
While Fellaini is yet to produce his best for United, they have last season’s in-form England midfielder in Michael Carrick, as well as veteran Ryan Giggs to choose from, though this does highlight an alarming lack of pace.
However, despite United falling eight points behind league-leaders Arsenal, Neville remains in support of the current manager, and believes that he will need to come through the poor run of form is he is to succeed at Old Trafford.
“I have no doubt that David Moyes will be an excellent United manager,” said Neville. “But for now he is having to endure some painful results.”
United’s Premier League run will again take a break when they entertain Spanish side Real Sociedad in the Champions League on Wednesday night, with Moyes’ team currently second in Group A after victory over Bayer Leverkusen and a draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
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