Neville: Man United could match Barca with Ronaldo

Matt Stead

Gary Neville believes Manchester United “would look like a Barcelona” if they signed Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale.

United currently sit third in the Premier League after a 1-1 draw with Leicester on Saturday, with a one-point gap separating them from Manchester City and the Foxes at the top.

Although complaints still roll in concerning Louis van Gaal’s style of play, Neville believes his former side are just one match-winner away from winning the title.

“If you put two more players into Manchester United’s team, say a Gareth Bale or a Cristiano Ronaldo into that team, that team could win the league,” he said on the Gary Neville Podcast. “Because the structure that is being built at this moment in time is solid.

“But they need that matchwinner, that Neymar, that Luis Suarez, the one that is going to light up a game and score one or two goals to take it away, then all of a sudden they would look like a Barcelona, because they’re dominating possession, making teams look foolish.

“Even in the last 15 minutes, they didn’t fully commit to winning the game [at Leicester]. Historically, you would like to see punch after punch, you would want to see bodies being thrown forward, but you might get caught on the counter attack and lose 2-1 that way.

“But that’s not the way in which this Manchester United team play, and the heart wants them to go forward, commit players and be reckless in some ways.

“I do think they are quite close when I think about it with my head, but my heart thinks I’d like to see them die trying a little bit more and go for it.

“Depay has a chance with five minutes to go, and it’s very nearly the perfect away performance.

“But he’s a year-and-a-half in, Louis van Gaal, and he should get a lot more time to do what he wants to do. I was in the same opinion when David Moyes was at Manchester United, and I’m in the same opinion now.

United are now 10 games unbeaten in all competitions, and have not tasted defeat since a 3-0 reverse against Arsenal in early October. Despite the conflicting emotions surrounding the club, Neville feels they are well-placed under Van Gaal’s leadership.

“I’m torn with Manchester United. The heart, the fan [in me] is listening to the noise,” Neville said.

“The head is saying: ‘There’s a lot of very good things, if you can dominate every single game, with 60, 65 per cent possession, if you can keep the clean sheets and have the best defensive record in the league.’

“When you don’t win, people will say it is boring, it’s not expansive enough, and that’s why I’m a little torn in this moment in time.

“Where they are at this moment in time is a fantastic achievement. Results are important, the style of play might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however I do think they are one or two players away from being a team who could easily win the league.”