Manchester United great Roy Keane hailed Cristiano Ronaldo's superb display after the 37-year-old's hat-trick downed Tottenham at Old Trafford.

United were twice pegged back by their rivals for the top four during an absorbing contest, but Ronaldo's 81st-minute header sealed just his second treble in United colours and a crucial 3-2 win for the hosts.

The Portugal legend has now scored in each of his past seven appearances against Tottenham in all competitions, and his 14 goals against Spurs represent his highest tally against any English club.

Speaking on Sky Sports after the match, former United captain Keane labelled the striker a "genius" and said Ralf Rangnick's team needed to keep their talisman beyond the end of this season.

"Ronaldo looked angry today, he played with a lot of aggression," Keane said. "He's obviously upset with whatever happened last week [missing United's 4-1 loss to Manchester City], but he showed today what we have seen over the years. 

"The guy's a genius, his three goals were fantastic. He brings so much to the team, why people think he cannot bring goals or value...

"For as great as he is, the next challenge for Ronaldo is to make this United team compete again for league titles. 

"Ronaldo is a huge part of the rebuilding of the club. When he's producing like that, you need Ronaldo in your team. 

"Ronaldo has been doing this throughout his career, he's been doing it for years. I think he can do it for another season."

One-time Old Trafford team-mate Gary Neville called Ronaldo's performance "magical", but he did not hold back in his criticism of United's "awful" defensive performance, having now conceded 40 times in the Premier League this season.

"Manchester United are not very good, I have to say," Neville said. "But there are moments in the game that are magical.

"The fans are buzzing because they've seen Ronaldo, they feel like they've seen something special.

"But in terms of the performance, if Spurs get a late winner, United fans are going home and saying how bad we are today. It wasn't a great performance.

"Manchester United's biggest problem is not Cristiano Ronaldo. Their defending is awful. Every team that comes here creates bags of chances."

Gary Neville labelled Manchester United "a disgrace" after their feeble second-half surrender in the 4-1 derby defeat to Manchester City.

After an exciting first half saw City edge 2-1 in front thanks to a Kevin De Bruyne double, the fizz went out of United's performance and they barely saw the ball in the closing stages.

Riyad Mahrez helped himself to two goals and United were out-shot 14-0 in the second half by a rampant home side at the Etihad Stadium.

It became a drubbing as United folded, and former club captain Neville said Ralf Rangnick's team let themselves down dreadfully.

During the final minutes of the game, Neville – now a commentator for Sky Sports – offered a string of stinging assessments.

"They've given up... they're walking around the pitch... nowhere near good enough," he said.

"They've absolutely thrown the towel in. The intensity and effort in the last 20 minutes has been non-existent."

United had just 21.1 per cent of possession in the second half, and their passing accuracy after the break was a poor 75 per cent. City's accuracy across the 90 minutes was a precise 92.7 per cent, underlining the quality they displayed.

Neville continued to be stinging as City's win was confirmed, adding: "Manchester United finished like an absolute shower.

"They were a disgrace in that last 25 minutes."

He spared Rangnick the most excoriating of his criticism, with the interim manager filling a gap between full-time appointments.

United had been unbeaten in eight Premier League games prior to this crushing setback.

The performance must have come as a shock to Rangnick, and Neville said: "The first time he's come up against a proper team, they've been given a proper doing."

Manchester United's season will be defined over the next month, according to former Red Devils captain Gary Neville.

United defeated Leeds United 4-2 on Sunday to extend their advantage over fifth-placed West Ham to four points as the top-four race for Champions League qualification continues to twist and turn.

Arsenal are down in sixth, also four points behind United, but the Gunners boast three games in hand heading into the crunch period of the Premier League campaign.

With trips to Manchester City and Liverpool to come in March, sandwiched by a home clash with Tottenham, Neville believes the upcoming month will be pivotal for Ralf Rangnick's side.

Speaking on his Sky Sports podcast, Neville said: "They are playing Atletico Madrid away on Wednesday; they have got Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City coming up.

"It is a big month and that month is going to define the season in terms of finishing in the top four and progressing in the Champions League.

"There is a lot of stuff coming out on a continuous basis: the captaincy, who they want as the next manager, cliques in the dressing room. 

"All that sort of stuff comes out, but they do continue to keep having those big moments in matches where their brilliant players can still deliver for them and they do win games in moments.

"They have got to stop those mad moments, those five-minute periods where they concede two goals, because if you concede two against City, Liverpool or Atletico, you are out of the game.

"Manchester United needed these points in the bag. It is inconceivable that, coming out of Tottenham at home, Manchester City away and Liverpool away that they are going to get seven to nine points. 

"They could easily come out of those three games with four points or five points or three points - you don't know. They are the type of games in any season over the last five or 10 years you could lose.

"If you are Ralf Rangnick, you have got to plan that you are going to drop points in those three matches, not that you would foresee it or want it, but it could happen. 

"These points that he has got from these last few matches will be needed. If you had said to me when Rangnick took over with the run of fixtures that they have got, this is where I would have wanted them to have been, maybe a point or two in front. 

"I still don't think it is plain-sailing and I still think it could turn quite quickly as I don't think it is stable behind the scenes at all."

Rangnick was appointed in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's departure from Old Trafford, with the German arriving on an interim basis with an agreement for a two-year consultancy role after.

There were some suggestions that Rangnick could continue in charge after the 2021-22 campaign, but Neville insisted that United will have a new manager in place for the following season.

"I don't think he gets the job at the end of the season, come what may, now," he added. 

"Maybe there was a feeling at the beginning that it could happen; that isn't going to happen. Manchester United will have a new manager next season.

"He will have a say in who gets the job because what he has got is a real good view of the characters, personalities, performance levels and training levels of the current group of players so he is in a strong position to advise. 

"He is probably in the strongest position to advise because he is having day-to-day contact with them. He is seeing how they cope with disappointment, how they cope with atmospheres, how they cope with big games, how they cope with training; can they meet the demands of the club? Have they got the quality?

"People say he is a sporting director and a coach, but the reality is that his position as a coach is short-term; his position as assisting the club, constructing their new methodology and structure moving forward is a longer term position for two years. 

"I'd rather him get that bit right; I'd rather suffer in the short-term for the longer-term perspective being right. He has got good experience around building structures in football clubs and Manchester United do need that.

"The manager has got to be right next season to be able to take on [Thomas] Tuchel, [Pep] Guardiola and [Jurgen] Klopp because if you don't take on those three with a manager who can face them like-for-like, you will get beat up. 

"It has been proven over the last few years that great managers in this league will bring you great things; Manchester United need a great manager to compete with the ones that are at that level in this league at this moment in time."

Gary Neville has described Manchester United as being "like a broth of 100 ingredients" and insisted Ralf Rangnick is not solely to blame for his former club's issues.

United have squandered half-time leads to draw 1-1 with Burnley and Southampton in their past two top-flight matches, seeing them drop to fifth.

It marks only the second time in their Premier League history that United have failed to win back-to-back games in which they have led at the midway point.

United are winless in three in all competitions, meanwhile, having also been pegged back at 1-1 by Middlesbrough before losing on penalties in the FA Cup fourth-round tie.

The Red Devils strengthened ahead of this campaign by bringing in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Neville does not believe there is any real plan at Old Trafford.

"You put that many ingredients into a soup, you don't know which one in the end is making it taste bad," he told Sky Sports. "You lose your sanity over what's good and what's bad.

"I felt they were near last season [when they finished second] but now I feel they are as far away as they've ever been from winning the league.

"Maybe the right appointment in the summer and a little bit of a shuffle with someone who is calculated, ruthless and knows where the problem lies could change things again.

"Right now, I'm looking at a broth of 100 ingredients and don't know which of them I want to get rid of to make it taste better. It's a mess and United fans must take their medicine."

Rangnick, appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's successor on an interim basis until the end of the campaign in November, has naturally shouldered much of the blame of late.

United have averaged fewer goals per game under the German than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4 – 14 goals in 10 games).

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes claimed on the back of Saturday's draw with Southampton that Rangnick is nothing more than a sporting director.

But amid rumours that United's players are pushing the club to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, Neville is not sure if a new man in the dugout will have the desired effect.

"It now gets to a point where you don't feel it's down to the manager anymore," said Neville, who won 17 major honours across his near two decades in United's first team.

"Ole was getting a lot of criticism at the start of the season and loses his job and it's now being suggested that Rangnick isn't good enough because he's a sporting director and he's not a coach.

"There's a confidence issue but there's also an issue of excuse mentality and of looking after themselves and not looking at the bigger picture, which is creating a brilliant team and trying to get back up that league."

Rangnick was forced to defend himself after the draw with Southampton, pointing out that United are not getting the results that their performances deserve.

United had 12 shots against Southampton to go with 22 attempts at Burnley and 30 over 120 minutes of the FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough, yet they failed to win each.

Since Rangnick's first game in charge on December 5, United have scored 17 goals in all competitions, but their expected goals (xG) figure is 23.3.

That differential of -6.3 is the third-biggest among all teams in Europe's top-five leagues in that time, behind only Lyon (-8) and Rayo Vallecano (-7.4).

By contrast, Premier League leaders Manchester City have scored 38 goals in the same timeframe from an xG of 29.9 – a positive differential of 8.11.

While an inability to put chances away is proving an issue, Neville believes United's issues run much deeper.

"You can't put your finger on one thing when you watch United nowadays," he said. "Every day feels like a soap opera. You hear the players want Pochettino, then Ronaldo's going to leave.

"The last few weeks have been terrible in terms of off-the-pitch incidents. On the pitch, I saw [Southampton manager] Ralph Hasenhuttl's quote after the game, which I think is the biggest criticism you can have levelled at you as a sportsperson or an athlete – that you don't work hard enough.

"I look at them on the pitch and there's definitely a number of them who are lacking in confidence. There's also a few of them who are not putting a shift in. The hard yards.

"That I can't forgive because as a United fan all that you can ask is that they give their all on the pitch. It looks lethargic and they don't look like they have the quality to chase games. Something has got to change there very quickly."

Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick brushed off criticism of his players' body language instead insisting their problem was physicality in Monday's 1-1 draw with Newcastle United.

United needed substitute Edinson Cavani's 71st-minute strike to earn a point away to the struggling Magpies who went ahead early from Allan Saint-Maximin.

Former United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was scathing of the side's performance but also the "whinging" body language of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes' specifically.

But the German boss brushed off that criticism, calling it a "side effect" from other issues.

"I don’t think today it was a problem of body language," Rangnick said during the post-game news conference. "It was a question of physicality, meeting the demands with regard to speed, tempo and physicality.

"The side effect is the body language afterwards. I don’t think that was the major problem for us today.

"The major problem was the way we played in those moments when it was about physicality."

Neville was forthright in his criticism of the Portuguese pair in particular, insisting more is needed from the side's senior and better players.

"Yeah, it's annoyed me for about two months," Neville said on Sky Sports. "Your best players in your team, it's devastating when those players are giving that look and body language towards the other ones. They have to help them and be the father and the grandparent in the team.

"I made massive mistakes as a young player at Manchester United but had good senior players who would have a go at me, but they would also put their arm around me and help me and I don't get the feeling that's happening.

"I think there's something wrong in there. Bruno's whingeing all the time. You've got to be there when your team-mates need you in the most difficult moments."

Rangnick also refused to use United's recent COVID-19 outbreak as an excuse, which saw two games postponed and the side not play since the 1-0 win over Norwich City on December 11.

 "It’s also a question of rhythm, but we shouldn't look for excuses - we need to get better and get more physical and more precise when we’re in possession of the ball," Rangnick said.

"I was not happy with our performance with the ball or when we had to press and counter-press. It’s about sprinting, about energy and what kind of energy mode do we play with the ball and against the ball.

"In three days, we have the next game at home against Burnley and then another, four days later, when we play Wolves at home, so both games are in our own stadium.

"We can do better, I know the players can play better than we did today, but we have to do it and sustainably do it on the pitch in those two home games if we want to get the points."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's lack of playing time will cause problems for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, according to Gary Neville.

The Gabon international dropped to the bench for Monday's 2-1 defeat to Everton, with Arteta instead using Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli in attack.

Arteta turned to Eddie Nketiah from the substitutes' bench before finally introducing Aubameyang five minutes from time.

Aubameyang missed a glorious chance shortly after Demarai Gray had fired in what proved to be a superb late winner for Everton to relieve the pressure on Rafael Benitez.

Arsenal's out-of-form captain has now failed to score in his last six Premier League appearances, which is his longest run in the competition and his longest goalless league run since going 14 without a goal for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga between February and August 2014.

Former Dortmund striker Aubameyang has had 15 shots across that barren spell and has failed to find the net from an expected goals (xG) return of 3.1.

Neville does not believe Aubameyang will react well to being left on the bench for so long, with the Manchester United legend predicting a possible parting of the ways between the player and club in January.

"I think there will be a problem with Aubameyang off the back of this game," Neville told Sky Sports. "I don't think he'll like the idea of Eddie Nketiah coming on before him. I don't think he'll like the idea of being a substitute, full stop.

"There's always that little bit of a bug there between Arteta and Aubameyang. I know he's the captain but he leaves him out and it just feels like something that's a little bit awkward, and it's going to cause a problem.

"I suspect, if Arteta could probably get money for Aubameyang and he could get someone else, they probably would. And I bet if Aubameyang could move on he probably would as well because it could maybe turn a little sour."

Aubameyang failed to find the target from his two efforts against Everton and now has a big chance conversion rate of 33.33 per cent in the Premier League this season.

That is down from 46.2 per cent last season and 63.0 the season before when registering 22 goals in 36 games, matching his tally from 2018-19.

Arsenal, who had taken the lead against Everton through Martin Odegaard's strike before late goals from Richarlison and Gray, are seventh in the league after losing three of their last four games.

The Gunners have named the youngest average starting line-up in the English top flight this season and Neville believes a lack of experience is costing Arteta.

"I think when we talk about this being a young team in terms of the average age, when you go to places like Old Trafford and Goodison Park in a night game one or two of the young players won't have experienced it too many times," he said.

"I remember my first game going to Anfield and it was tough, going to Arsenal at Highbury. You need experience to get you through those difficult moments when the crowd go up and a few decisions go against you and you can feel something happening.

"You need comfort in there. You need that spine. Arsenal's senior players are not really massive characters. They are not really leaders. They don't get those young players through those difficult moments in the game so the other players just go under a little."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can have no complaints about his sacking at Manchester United, which became "inevitable", according to club greats Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand.

Solskjaer was dismissed on Sunday after a stunning 4-1 defeat to Watford in United's first Premier League match since the international break.

Big home losses to Liverpool and Manchester City had already increased the pressure on the 48-year-old.

Although only those two title-winning teams earned more points (245 for Liverpool, 244 for City) than United (197) during Solskjaer's tenure, the Red Devils have only once endured a worse start to a Premier League season.

That was also under Solskjaer, as United earned just 16 points from 12 games in 2019-20, compared to 17 points this term. Their 21 goals conceded at this stage represents their worst mark to date.

Seventh in the table, Neville believes United's announcement Michael Carrick will take temporary charge before the club name an interim manager until the end of the season shows they "don't have a plan".

"This is third time in eight years a manager has been given long-term extension and lost their job a few months later," he told Sky Sports, adding: "You have to ask questions."

But Neville accepts Solskjaer has reached "the end" following a dismal run of form.

"Every decision Ole has made in three years at this club were for best interests of United – he loves the club," Neville said.

"I have no issue with his commitment, but he couldn't get his side to play football in the past couple of months.

"There is a lack of leaders in the dressing room, irrespective of the manager. You hope they can find a second wind, but it didn't happen. Watford mauled them, messed them around, outfought them – when that happens, it spells the end.

"Managers deserve two or three years in the job. Ole can't complain – he's been backed in the transfer window. [David] Moyes had eight months and was kicked out.

"Ole can't complain about time or money afforded. He won't complain, but he'll be massively disappointed. He expected a lot more.

"Why has a club that has been progressing now look as though they can't pass to each other? The back five yesterday, and midfield two, have been together for a number of years. The confidence is just shot.

"Ole will reflect with sadness, but he should be proud with his previous work. He rebuilt the soul after the end of the Mourinho era.

"The players need to sort themselves out. They'll get battered in front of the whole country against Chelsea if they don't sort it out."

Neville added that "performances have been terrible, results have been shocking", describing the Watford display as "wimpish", and his assessment tallies with that of former United team-mate Ferdinand.

"This has been inevitable," Ferdinand told BT Sport. 

He added: "What we saw against Watford was terrible. I'm not surprised [by the news]. I'm disappointed, obviously, in the way the team's performed.

"It's unfortunate for someone like Ole, but it's the way football goes."

Gary Neville has thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for "restoring some soul" at Manchester United after the Norwegian's near three-year reign at the club was brought to an end.

United confirmed Solskjaer's departure in a club statement on Sunday, a day on from a 4-1 loss at Watford that the club legend described as "embarrassing".

That defeat to Watford – United's fifth in their last seven Premier League games – proved to be the final straw, with Michael Carrick taking temporary charge of the Red Devils.

Solskjaer, who was appointed on an initial caretaker basis in December 2018, leaves Old Trafford with a win percentage of 54.2 per cent across his 168 games in charge.

That is the second highest of United's four permanent managers since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, behind predecessor Jose Mourinho's 58.3 per cent from 144 matches.

While Solskjaer failed to win any silverware in three seasons at the helm, Neville believes his former team-mate deserves credit for other aspects of his work.

"Thank you Ole. You did us proud," Neville posted on Twitter shortly after Solskjaer's sacking was confirmed.

"The last two months were tough but before that you restored some soul into the club."

Since Solskjaer's first game in charge – a 5-1 win over former club Cardiff City – only Liverpool (242) and Manchester City (244) have collected more points than United's 197.

However, the 17 points United have collected from their opening 12 games this term is their second-lowest tally in the Premier League era, behind the 16 accrued in 2019-20, also under Solskjaer.

United, who are seventh in the table, return to action next Sunday with a trip to league leaders Chelsea.

Gary Neville claims Harry Kane is playing as though someone pooped his party after the Tottenham star drew a fifth successive blank in the Premier League.

The England skipper had not experienced such a league goals drought since August 2016, and his loss of form follows a turbulent period in his career when he looked set to leave Spurs.

Kane appeared destined for a move to Manchester City, but that transfer did not materialise as the Premier League champions could not prise him from the north London club's clutches.

He had five goal attempts in Sunday's 3-1 derby defeat to Arsenal but could not find a way past Aaron Ramsdale.

"He doesn't look happy," Neville said.

Pointing to Tottenham's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in their previous game, Neville said: "Last week was a risk, I thought, shoving him out on the left wing. He was out on the left wing last week.

"Today I thought he did play higher, to be fair, but the balls played up to him were just long punts in the first 20 minutes.

"Harry doesn't look himself in terms of his body language. He looks like he's still carrying over the situation from over the summer.

"He could still have had two or three goals today and a penalty, so there's still a contribution, but he's just not himself. Neither is Son [Heung-min].

"Son and him look like they've had their balloons burst at a party as a kid. That's what it looks like."

Neville said Spurs have "good senior pros" in their ranks, as he sought an explanation for why their form has nosedived since starting the league campaign with three straight wins.

Rough losses to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and now Arsenal have seen them plummet from the top of the league and into mid-table.

Nuno Espirito Santo may have a big job on his hands in turning Spurs back into a winning side, and Neville suspects some players are pining for a coach in the mould of former boss Mauricio Pochettino.

"Those players to me look like they want a high-pressing, Pochettino-style coach that plays out from the back and gets the centre-backs on the six-yard line, rather than one that sits behind the ball and counter-attacks," former Manchester United captain Neville said on Sky Sports.

With the derby defeat, Nuno became the first Spurs boss to lose as many as four times in his opening 10 fixtures since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Kane attempted just four passes in the first half at Emirates Stadium and was successful with only five of his 11 passes across the 90 minutes.

He has also failed to get a goal in back-to-back games against Arsenal for the first time in his Tottenham career.

Former Spurs captain Ledley King said of his old team-mate: "He cares, but there's no doubt he's out of shape at the moment. He's out of form. He's a big part for the club so when he's not playing well we struggle."

Gary Neville cannot understand why the Manchester United hierarchy are not doing everything to sign prolific striker Harry Kane in order to emerge again as genuine Premier League title contenders.

United have spent in excess of £100million in recent weeks to recruit Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane from Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively.

But Neville believes his former club should not rest on their laurels and must now lure Kane north from Tottenham before the transfer window closes on August 31.

Kane, who made his first appearance of the season off the bench in the win over Wolves on Sunday, sparked frenzied speculation around his future when reports emerged in May that he wants to leave Spurs.

Manchester City have been strongly linked, but Neville thinks it is United who need to make a statement signing in order to keep pace with their rivals and back boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He said on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football: "Chelsea, we've seen what they've done with [£97m signing Romelu] Lukaku. We've seen that [Virgil] Van Dijk has come back [from injury] for Liverpool and we know that Man City are in for [Jack] Grealish and Kane. If they get Kane, I think there's a massive problem for United.

"I'm struggling to understand why Manchester United aren't going that extra step this transfer window.

"Sancho for 70-odd million was last year's money and I think with regards to Manchester United they've always gone after the best player in the Premier League, the best English player in the Premier League, or British player historically.

"[Anthony] Martial, [Daniel] James, [Jesse] Lingard – you're talking about potentially offloading a lot of wages there, potentially getting some transfer fees in.

"Why are they not going in for Harry Kane this week?  

"I think if Harry Kane entered Manchester United you could get up to 90-95 points.  

"Without him, they are still going to have to replace [Edinson] Cavani and Martial next summer – Martial is not going to do it, Cavani has only got one year left.  

"They are going to have to buy a centre-forward at some point – why not get the man now and give Ole that impetus?"

Gary Neville has urged the FA to tie down their "greatest asset" Gareth Southgate ahead of England's first appearance in a major tournament final in 55 years.

The Three Lions are out to win the European Championship for the first time in their history on Sunday when they face Italy at Wembley Stadium.

Win or lose, this run to the final is the latest mark of the progress made by international football's perennial underachievers, who also made it to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup under Southgate.

And Neville believes English football chiefs must do all they can to keep the man who has masterminded these recent successes in charge for as long as possible.

He told Sky Sports: "I said it four or five weeks ago that I thought that Gareth Southgate is our greatest asset and I'm still absolutely of that opinion. 

"There is nobody in this country that knows international football better than Gareth Southgate in terms of tournament football and that's got the ability to coach. 

"Many of us have been to many tournaments, but he's then been in the U21s.

"He's been in the system, he knows exactly what it's like to coach in the system of the FA, understands the politics and the way in which the FA works and accepts that and [doesn't] make it a problem, which many managers in the past have. 

"All those things that are difficult to contend with, the media, the handling of players, the club v country stuff - he's seen all that before in his playing career and U21s career and all those things that he's seen happen wrong before he's been able to put right through his experiences as England manager and that's why he is our greatest asset. 

"We should try and keep him for as long as we possibly can, that's not to say we'll win [against Italy], that's not to say we'll win in the next tournament or do well in the next two tournaments but I genuinely don't believe there is anyone who has got the experience, knowledge and capability to perform for England like he has."

 

A raucous atmosphere is sure to greet England as they step out onto the Wembley turf aiming to secure their first trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup at the same stadium.

But Neville expects the players to be better prepared for the emotion of the occasion after experiencing similar during their semi-final win over Denmark.

He continued: "It'd be interesting to know whether the pressure impacted the players in the first half an hour of the game against Denmark because the first 20 minutes after kick-off - it was absolutely mesmerising, spine-tingling to the point where it had an impact upon us [in the stadium].

"No England player would have seen that since Euro '96 so I can't believe that didn't have an impact on them in the first half an hour.

"They were in a special place on Wednesday but I think because of that they will be used to it and will be better prepared for what's going to happen [in the final].

"Germany was good but Wednesday was absolutely off the scale against Denmark. It was brilliant."

 

Gareth Southgate could spring a surprise by starting Jadon Sancho instead of Bukayo Saka for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.

That is the view of former England defender Gary Neville, who believes the spot on the right wing that was filled by Saka in the semi-final win over Denmark is the only position up for grabs.

Neville would have been tempted to play Marcus Rashford if the Manchester United forward had been in better form.

Instead he believes another soon-to-be United player Sancho, who started the quarter-final against Ukraine in Saka's absence, could be the man who gets the nod if 19-year-old is indeed left out.

Saka has had an impressive tournament for England and Neville acknowledges it could be an "unpopular" decision.

He feels it would be easier for Southgate to pick an unchanged side and then take Saka off in the second half as he did in the extra-time triumph in the last four.

The Arsenal youngster has been put forward for many press interviews prior to the Italy clash, but Neville thinks that could be a red herring.

 

"There is only one possible change and that's Saka," he said to ITV Sport.

"I know that would possibly be an unpopular thing to say.

"He may say [to Saka] go for 60 minutes and we'll get you off - which he's done before - he may say that and go with the same team. 

"But I just wonder whether he might bring someone else in.

"Actually putting him up for interviews before the final makes me think he might not be playing.

"If Rashford was in form I'd go Rashford-Sterling just to get in behind [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Leonardo] Bonucci but Rashford hasn't been in the greatest of form. 

"I would think it would be Sancho if Saka doesn't play.

"I think you have to play two of the quicker ones, so it would be Saka, Sancho or Rashford with Sterling on the other side."

 

Phil Foden missed training on Saturday with a knock and the Manchester City star is the only injury doubt for England.

While he called the development "a blow", Neville believes England can cope due to their strength in depth, particularly in the attacking positions.

He told Sky Sports: "It would be a blow for Phil Foden personally and for the team because he is an important part of those six or seven forward players that we have that float around Harry Kane.

"One of the great strengths in this tournament is that you can start Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling and bring on Jack Grealish or Jadon Sancho or Phil Foden and not really drop in quality that much.

"We have got an exceptional amount of talent in those positions.

"We are better in the latter half of games, the danger against Italy is that if we do start badly in that first half an hour then the Italians will punish us more than Denmark did.

"You don’t want to be behind to a team with the defensive record that they have.

"It's important that Foden is fit for him personally but if not then an injury is an injury, it's important that we have a lot of players who are fit in those positions going into the last 20 minutes of games which has become critical for us."

Manchester United's rescheduled Premier League clash with Liverpool is set to go ahead on time after renewed fan protests were effectively controlled.

The sides' original meeting on Sunday, May 2 was called off after supporters broke into Old Trafford and stormed the pitch as part of protests against United's ownership.

Several police officers were injured during the ensuing clashes, which forced the postponement of the game on safety grounds.

However, the rearranged fixture looks likely to go ahead after United, along with local police, took steps to prepare for fresh protests taking place on Thursday evening.

Barriers were erected around Old Trafford to prevent fans from entering, while the United players arrived individually by car earlier in the day before taking a pre-match nap at the stadium.

Liverpool, meanwhile, sent a decoy coach that was momentarily blocked by a group of fans, but ultimately arrived at a side of the ground clear of supporters and without issue.

As such, it is currently expected that the game will kick off on time (8.15pm GMT).

United's American owners have been the target of renewed ire from fans in the aftermath of failed plans to join a breakaway Super League alongside the Premier League's 'big six'.

Consequently, United legend Roy Keane does not expect supporter anger at the Glazers to subside any time soon.

He told Sky Sports: "Manchester United fans are not done with this, we saw some protests a few weeks ago, but I think there is still a lot to come. 

"The concern is that when the fans can come back to the stadium, you could have 70,000 fans showing up at Old Trafford, frustrated with what happened. Things can get much worse."

Keane's former United team-mate, Gary Neville, believes the ongoing protests are serving to damage the club's brand, which in turn should hurt the Glazers.

He said: "Let's be clear, what we’ve seen on that forecourt before which is effectively Man United turned into a prison, it’s a devastating image for the Manchester United Football Club brand around the world, let's just note that. 

"You have to put prison walls up around your ground and have hundreds and hundreds of police officers on a game where fans aren't attending, there is something that has gone badly wrong."

Roy Keane believes Manchester United fans have "had enough" and predicted further protests after Sunday's game with Liverpool was postponed due to scenes at Old Trafford and in the city.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were due to face the reigning Premier League champions at home at 16.30 local time, but kick-off was delayed due to demonstrations against the club's owners, the Glazer family.

After protestors assembled outside the ground, some gained access to Old Trafford and entered the pitch, while others gathered outside the Lowry Hotel where the United squad stay prior to home matches.

Around an hour after the game had been due to kick off, United announced it had been postponed "due to safety and security considerations around the protest". The clubs will agree to a new date with the Premier League.

United fans have long been vehemently opposed to the Glazer ownership due to the significant levels of debt added to the club following their leveraged takeover in 2005, but the failed attempt by the Red Devils and the Premier League's 'big six' to join a breakaway European Super League has fuelled animosity in recent weeks.

While the Super League appears dead in the water for now after the six English clubs withdrew from the plans, anger towards executives such as the Glazers and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has abated little among supporters.

Former United captain Keane believes Sunday's protests were just the start, telling Sky Sports: "The United fans have had enough and they're doing it because they love the club.

"It's not just as a result of what's happened the last two weeks with the Super League... it's been building for a number of years. They've come to the end and feel enough is enough. It's a huge statement for the game to be called off. 

"There's been a build-up in tension, whether it be about ticketing, poor communication, things going on in the background.

"The leadership of the club has not been good enough. When they look at the owners, they feel it's just about making money. The United fans have looked at the Glazers and thought 'enough is enough'. 

"They're doing it because they love the club. Some people won't agree with it but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice.

"This will go out all over the world, and hopefully the owners of Manchester United will sit up and take note. These fans are deadly serious and there's more to come, and this is just the start of it from United fans – I guarantee it."

Fellow former captain Gary Neville, who was scathing over the proposed formation of the Super League, said: "I think it's a warning to the owners of the football club that, ultimately, they're not going to accept what they've done in the last couple of weeks.

"Beyond today, it should be about reform. Protesting is the right of every single person in this country, we must retain that, but beyond today, it's about making sure that fans across the country unite to make sure there's reform in English football, or else [these protests] will be a waste of time.

"There are people protesting in London today against the government trying to stop protests! We have to allow protests, but there is always the potential of there being a flashpoint because there will always be one or two people who may have had a drink, they might just be coming to antagonise, or they might be coming for ulterior motives. That will always happen.

"The reality is that what happened two weeks ago has ignited the United fan base into life again. It's brought them back to life.

"Fifteen years ago, there were a lot of fans who were upset, and every one I speak to are absolutely disgusted by what happened a fortnight ago. United were leading this thing, as were Liverpool, two weeks ago. They are the biggest clubs in this country."

Page 2 of 3
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.