Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to win a trophy this season to demonstrate how Manchester United have made real progress, according to Gary Neville.
United further enhanced their chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over fifth-placed West Ham on Sunday, courtesy of an own goal from Craig Dawson in the second half.
The victory, following on from their derby triumph over runaway leaders Manchester City a week earlier, sees Solskjaer’s squad sit second in the table.
However, former Red Devils defender Neville feels finishing as the closest team to Pep Guardiola’s title winners is not enough, citing the importance of securing silverware ahead of a potentially pivotal transfer window.
United have an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City coming up, though before then they face Milan in the second leg of a delicately balanced Europa League tie, the teams having drawn 1-1 at Old Trafford last Thursday following a dramatic late equaliser from the Italian side.
“The FA Cup has become critical to this football club this season. The League Cup and FA Cup has been the starting point for Manchester United teams over the last 15 to 20 years,” Neville said on his podcast for Sky Sports.
“If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to be successful at this club, he not only needs to finish second in the Premier League, but he has to win a trophy. That would be seen as real progress. Then you’re attracting players next season to try and catch Manchester City.
“I think it’s a brilliant week. Beating Manchester City the way they did, and winning on Sunday.
“If you’d have said to Solskjaer at the start of the week you’ll beat Manchester City, beat West Ham and draw 1-1 with Milan, he’d have snapped your hand off. Going into that Manchester derby, they were under real pressure.”
15 – Only Harry Redknapp (15) has managed more away Premier League games at Old Trafford without winning that West Ham boss David Moyes, who has never won in 14 visits (D4 L10). Bogey. pic.twitter.com/IRgIgunFGU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 14, 2021
As for the fight to finish in the top four in the league, Neville feels the current situation – with Leicester and Chelsea sitting behind the two Manchester clubs – will be the same at the end of the campaign.
West Ham only sit three points behind Chelsea with a game in hand over their London rivals, while those below them – Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – have failed to show signs they can put a run of results together to mount a genuine challenge.
“Leicester are the one team you’d be most nervous about, because they did blow up last season. But I think there’s just enough this year,” the ex-England international said.
“I don’t see West Ham catching Leicester, and the teams below them are so inconsistent and seem to be all over the place. I’m not sure which one of them is going to put a run together.”