Gary Neville says Manchester United fans can expect a lot more results like the draw against Southampton as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to transform the club into title winners.
The result already leaves them seven points adrift of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League but Neville acknowledges Solskjaer will have to play the “long game” before they are challenging for the Premier League again.
“I think when you have a team that’s young like this Manchester United team is, it’s got a lot of players who are developing and trying to prove themselves, I think they’re going to get a lot of results like this where they do alright in the game,” Neville told the The Gary Neville Podcast (via The Metro).
“I actually thought it was OK the performance yesterday but they just don’t have that clinical element to see it off, to be able to sort of win the game.
“There is an element of frustration at the moment from Manchester United fans because obviously 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 [of less success] and I think there’s an element of frustration building, real frustration, that they’re not on the right track.
“I think that they are on the right track in my opinion in terms of what they’re doing. Because the first thing that Manchester United have to do, you have to have a group of people in that changing room – it’s so important – who want to be there. Forget how talented they are.
“Sir Alex Ferguson came down from Aberdeen in ’86 and he got rid of some of the most talented players in the club to change the culture. He was given a long time, he was given two, three, four years. You think of Norman Whiteside that was let go, Paul McGrath was let go. They were some of the most talented players that were in the squad, but he culturally wanted to try and change what was happening.
“And I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in what he’s doing is trying to play the long game. To play the long game he’s going to need the support from up above and 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 who are all facing in the same direction, but to get the quality that’s needed. You need the quality to go with the sort of alignment, if you like.
“And what I think to be fair Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have done at Liverpool and Manchester City is it took them two or three years. Well, it took Pep 12 months, two or three transfer windows because I think he had a better squad. It’s taken Klopp two, three, four years to affect the culture fully and get a team fully in what he would think is his style, his culture and what he wants to do. And that does just take some time, and I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is working more with a squad that Jurgen Klopp picked up [quality-wise] than the one Pep Guardiola picked up.
“So from that point of view I think it’s going to be a little bit of a long game, and it is going to be frustrating, and there are going to be results like Southampton and Crystal Palace along the way, but I think 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, the way in which they’re trying to play, the style of it, it’s right. So the bones are there, but there is a long way to go and it’s going to be bumpy.”