Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
Gary Neville believes Manchester United are in “special measures” and that they could finish in the bottom half of the Premier League if they do not address their “horror story” recruitment strategy.
The former United defender was vocal in his criticism of the club’s owners following a humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford on Saturday.
The defeat left Erik Ten Hag’s side bottom of the table after the Dutchman lost his first competitive game in charge a week earlier at home to Brighton.
Neville spoke out about what he considered to be poor ownership of the club from the Glazer family and on Sky Sports Monday Night Football, the ex-Valencia boss continued his evaluation.
“When a school is underperforming and getting poor results regularly over a period of time they get put in special measures by the Government and the kids don’t get blamed,” he said.
“That is where Manchester United are, it is special measures and you can’t blame the kids any more.
“It is a horror story from a recruitment point of view.
“I know there is a big call for blaming the players and we have blamed the players a lot over the last 10 years – I was excited about those players coming to the club as many people were.
“Even last year with Jadon Sancho, Rafael Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo – great signings.
“When (Angel) Di Maria came, we said it would be a great signing.
“But it has become a graveyard for football players this football club, where players are considering whether to even come to the club, they can’t get players in.”
Neville was joined in the studio by former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher and revealed the pair had been analysing United’s signings over the past decade.
The pair listed just two signings as successful as the fallout from their dire start to the season continued.
Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bruno Fernandes were categorised as either performing on the pitch or proving value for money.
“It has been one of the problems United have had for 10 years, they have flip-flopped between different managers and different strategies and allowed managers to influence the actual overall recruitment,” said Neville.
“That has been a massive issue. We looked at the last 10 years of major signings at the club, we removed third goalkeepers and some of the younger players.
“But £1.25billion has been spent and we categorised them – we did it together, some do not agree.
“We think there are only two signings – at this moment in time – that you could say have been good value and performed at a level and, to be fair, Fernandes has gone off the boil a little bit, but because of the numbers he hit in the last couple of seasons, you would have to say that worked, and Ibrahimovic – obviously that worked.
“Ronaldo would have been a green (success) but what has happened in the last month, he wants to leave, the confusion over him, it is a nightmare scenario and it is not working.”
Ronaldo’s immediate future, and how the club respond to a potential departure, could yet leave them languishing in the bottom half of the table, according to Neville.
“I think there is a massive decision to make on Cristiano Ronaldo, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” the eight-time Premier League winner said.
“A few weeks ago, before the season started and before these results, I said the best thing to do was to facilitate a move away for Ronaldo.
“The problem is now, if they lose him there is nothing left in the goal-scoring part of the pitch.
“I genuinely think if they don’t bring players in or they bring poor players in and he leaves, I genuinely feel they could finish in the bottom half of the table.
“I think that is a bottom half of the table team. That is a massive statement that may look stupid at the end of the season.
“They are demoralised and shot to pieces, it is really bad in there. They have gone back to default.”