Gary Neville has hit out at Manchester United’s hierarchy for not backing manager Erik ten Hag in the summer transfer window following the opening day defeat to Brighton in the Premier League.
Pascal Gross scored a double to give the visitors a two-goal lead at Old Trafford and though an Alexis Mac Allister own goal gave United hope, Brighton held on for victory.
Nine of United’s starting XI were involved in last season’s underwhelming campaign, with Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen the only new signings on display from the start while Tyrell Malacia came on as a late substitute.
And speaking on Sky Sports after the game, Neville described it as a ‘familiar performance’ from last season.
“The people above him should have known that was an unacceptable situation to hand Erik ten Hag that squad at the start of the season,” he said.
“It needed improving more than it has been already. Obviously there are two or three weeks to go in the transfer window but he needed three or four weeks to be able to work with them.
“Every new coach that comes in thinks they can do better with the players that were there than the players with the last coach because they believe they’re the better coach. That’s probably the case with this. The reality is I think he’s seen what those players are today.
“I don’t think any Manchester United fan, any pundit or anybody who has watched this team over the last 12 months has seen those same players playing in the same positions expecting anything different from what they saw today.
“Erik ten Hag will be disappointed. He saw promising signs in pre-season but the reality has hit home.”
Neville even went as far as describing United ‘as the easiest team to play in the league’.
He added: “That’s a massive worry. The openness is unbelievable. It’s like ‘how have they got themselves in this position’.”
Meanwhile, Neville’s colleague and former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane questioned the players’ mentality.
“There’s an element of talent in the squad but when they do have a little setback they can’t seem to deal with it.
“I go back to the DNA of the club or the culture of the players and what is going on at the training ground. It’s not there. I don’t see personalities, I don’t see characters.
“Harry Maguire said it was a ‘nightmare start’ after the game. Well it’s up to the players to do something about it. Harry is the captain and after every game he says ‘we’re disappointed, we’ll regroup, we’ll go again’. Leopards and spots. It’s not always about throwing money at it.
“It’s very hard to criticise players and say ‘they’re not giving 100 per cent’ but if the stats suggest most of last season and going into the first game of this season then they’re not giving 100 per cent.
“Today was a bit of lack of football intelligence, they’re dead open. They can’t seem to keep clean sheets. Huge, huge problems for the club.”