Manchester United legend Gary Neville has suggested that the respective situations of Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho could be partly responsible for some of the turmoil the club is currently going through.
United lost to Brighton on Saturday at Old Trafford in their third defeat in the Premier League so far this term.
Erik ten Hag’s men have the unenviable task of travelling to Germany to take on Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in their opening clash of the 2023/24 Champions League campaign on Wednesday.
Both Sancho and Maguire did not feature against Brighton for completely different reasons.
Sancho was banished from the first team after refusing to apologise to Ten Hag following the bitter spat between the two which rumbled on during the international break.
It was indicated that the forward will not be restored to the squad until he issues an apology to his manager.
On the other hand, Maguire lost his place in the starting XI, with Ten Hag keen on a partnership of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.
With Varane out due to injury, the United boss has selected Victor Lindelof next to Martinez in the heart of his side’s backline.
Neville spoke to Sky Sports and said, “[Ten Hag] will continue to keep doing what he is doing, which is following his beliefs, his values, his principles. The only thing I would say is, how popular is Sancho in the dressing room? How popular is Maguire in the dressing room?”
“This discomfort and uncertainty is being created on the inside. You have got a player at the moment, who is probably changing in the first-team dressing room but is obviously over with the academy. You have got Harry Maguire, who was captain of these players 12 months ago by the way, who is now almost in some ways alienated and is now third, fourth, fifth-choice centre-half.”
“So, he’s got some situations in there and I don’t know the damage that they are having. But in terms of his work on the pitch, I don’t think Erik ten Hag will change, and the fact of the matter is that there have been many a manager, good managers, over the last 10 or 12 years since Sir Alex Ferguson left who have found challenges at Manchester United.”
Neville also pinpointed one other area of concern – that United have afforded Ten Hag too much power in terms of signings. This as per the former defender is detrimental as it signals a lack of power among decision-makers at the highest levels.
He explained that before the season started, he was concerned the Red Devils had not done enough in the transfer market to compete for the title alongside the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool.
The 48-year-old noted that United were not outdone by Brighton because of a lack of effort or passion. It’s simply because the Seagulls are coached better and have been drilled to play the way Roberto De Zerbi desires.
Neville opined that no-one inside Old Trafford was shocked by the outcome as such results have become the norm in recent years.
The eight-time Premier League winner further stated, “There is no Manchester United fan I know, that has got a brain, that is most angry with Erik ten Hag. What they want really is a change of ownership and they want stability and they want a group of players that are committed. And I don’t think the players aren’t committed. I just wonder how good they are. That is my concern.”
As per Neville, United can no longer claim to have one of the best sporting operators in Europe. Those days are gone and the club are now playing catch-up.