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Former Man United defender Gary Neville has lauded the “unbelievable” job Erik ten Hag has done as manager of his former club following the Red Devils’ 2-1 derby victory over rivals Man City on Saturday.
The win sees Manchester United into third in the English Premier League, just a point behind Pep Guardiola’s City in second place. With half the season remaining, the club’s current position has gotten fans extremely excited at what’s to come under Ten Hag.
Ten Hag’s side won at Old Trafford despite the fact that they had absentees in their defense and lost the talent of Cristiano Ronaldo after the World Cup.
Nevilles’ Podcast Praise for Ten Hag
Former United player and TV football pundit Neville spoke on his ‘Gary Neville Podcast,’ this week to explain how happy he has been with Man United’s form under Ten Hag, who was appointed last summer.
“If you’d said to me United would’ve had a back four of Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw at centre-back, with Malacia at left-back, and a front three of Bruno, Martial and Rashford – seven or eight months ago, I’d have said United were in big trouble,” the pundit explained.
“Erik ten Hag is doing an unbelievable job there,” he stated, “He’s still got a team that looks, on paper, well below what it needs to be. But he’s extracted everything he needs from them.
“It meant the game was more difficult for City, and Casemiro has been absolutely outstanding. Authority, composure, Man Utd’s midfield was the problem for many years, and actually that’s their strongest part of the team and instead they need additions at the back and upfront.”
United’s ‘Mesmerizing’ Form under Ten Hag
Man United started poorly under Ten Hag and endured a 6-3 defeat to their city rivals at the Etihad Stadium in the last Manchester Derby. That game saw a poor performance put in by the side and the result could have been a lot worse as City ran rampant.
As time has gone, however, the Dutch boss has left his mark on the side and made big decisions in order to get his team playing. Club captain Harry Maguire ahs largely been dropped to the bench following a poor spell at center-back while a fallout with Ronaldo saw the Portuguese star depart for Saudi Arabia.
Neville told his listeners that he has been “mesmerized” by the work that Ten Hag has done leading Man United.
“I’m mesmerised by the job Ten Hag has done. If you’d have said to me four months ago this is where Man Utd will be, I’d have said no chance,” he said.
“I’d have said they’re finishing halfway down the table, the way they were,” Neville explained.
“Coming off the back of last season, the start of this season, I thought they were absolutely nowhere near,” he added, “I thought they overpaid for Antony, I thought they overpaid for Casemiro. It looked like the usual Man Utd panic.”
“It’s worth noting in moments like this that we shouldn’t go too far, but the job the manager has done not only on the pitch but with the players, how he’s brought them together and that spirit, the way he’s dealt with big situations.”
With the club well in the race for this season’s Premier League title, the pundit put doubt on fans’ hopes that the club could secure a win but lauded the fact that the Red Devils were in the race.
“They’ve got an opportunity to get close to these two teams at the top,” Neville said, “I don’t think they can win the title, but the fact we’re even talking about the fact they could be level with Arsenal in a couple of weeks is unheard of.