The Red Devils secured a runners-up finish under the Portuguese in 2017-18 but are considered to have made more progress under their current boss
Manchester United’s class of 2020-21 are more realistic title challengers than the “strange bunch of lads” that Jose Mourinho guided to second place in 2017-18, says Gary Neville.
The Red Devils were held to a goalless draw away at Chelsea in their latest Premier League outing, with stalemate at Stamford Bridge keeping them 12 points back on table-topping Manchester City.
However, Neville sees cause for optimism in a side that has gone 20 games unbeaten on the road.
What has been said?
“To actually go 20 games away from home needs applauding because it’s hard to do that,” Red Devils legend Neville told Sky Sports. “What do you use to demonstrate teams that have got good character and personality? They’re good away from home, they’re good on set pieces, they look like they want to play with each other.
“That’s why I think this Manchester United team is better suited than the one from two or three years ago under Jose Mourinho that finished second.
“I actually feel there’s a better spirit. I think they’ve got a far better chance of winning the league in the next two or three years than they were under Jose a couple of years ago.
“I thought it was a strange bunch of lads, they just didn’t seem to like each other. They didn’t really appeal to me as a fan.
“I think they’re going in the right direction. Whether they get there or not, that’s another matter; we’ll know in the future, but they’re certainly going in the right direction.”
Can Man Utd win silverware this season?
The Premier League title appears destined to head for Etihad Stadium this season, with in-form City stretching their winning run to 20 games across all competitions.
They are also into the Carabao Cup final and last-16 of the Champions League, with a historic quadruple still a realistic target.
United though remain in the hunt for major silverware themselves and can bring a four-year barren run to a close.
They are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, where they will face Leicester, and have booked a date with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s AC Milan in the last-16 of the Europa League.
How close are United to a title challenge?
Serious regression was endured by the Red Devils on the back of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, with the Scot walking away after securing a 13th Premier League crown.
The patience shown in Solskjaer has United back on the right track and Neville believes they are closer to reaching the summit than the expensively-assembled Chelsea team that they shut out in west London.
He said: “I think United are nearer, I think Chelsea got some work to do on the defence; I think that there’s some maturity in their players in attack – [Kai] Havertz, [Timo] Werner, [Christian] Pulisic, [Hakim] Ziyech – I think there are outstanding talents there, but they’ve all got to merge.
“I think [Marcus] Rashford is probably a little bit further ahead in his development; there’s also [Edinson] Cavani, [Paul] Pogba, [Bruno] Fernandes, so I’d say United are just a touch further ahead, and they are in the league anyway, they’re six points in front. So that’s suggested by the league table.”