Gary Neville has slammed Manchester United’s recruitment since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, claiming that the club have only made two signings that have been a clear success over the past nine years.
United have had a dismal start to the season, losing both of their Premier League games under new manager Erik ten Hag, and Neville is far from impressed with the way the club have acted in the transfer market. The former full-back believes this is a long-running issue at Old Trafford, and he analysed 33 signings that United have made since 2013 on Monday Night Football.
When looking at whether players have been value for money in terms of their performances on the pitch, Neville split them into three categories – green (success), amber (borderline), and red (failure). The majority fell into the latter category, and he admitted that players have struggled so badly at United over the years, that potential signings are now having doubts about joining the club in the first place.
Gary Neville thinks Bruno Fernandes has been a success at Manchester United
He also thinks United bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer was good business
However, Neville thinks United’s overall business since 2013 has been disastrous
‘One of the problems Manchester United have had for 10 years is that they’ve flip-flopped between managers and strategies. That’s been a massive issue.
‘We did a little exercise where we looked at major signings at the club over the last 10 years, removing players like third goalkeepers. We removed some of the younger players but £1.25bn has been sent.
‘We think there are only two signings, at this moment in time, that have been good value and have performed at a level. Bruno Fernandes has gone off the boil a bit but, because of the numbers he’s hit over two seasons, you have to say he worked – and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic has worked.
‘Herrera, Shaw, Matic, Mata… Ronaldo would have been a green but because of what’s happened over the last month, with him wanting to leave and the confusion, the stories that have happened, that has to make him an amber. It might be because of their performance, value, price tag or just their behaviour.
’75 percent have not worked. 20 percent are amber. Only four or five percent have worked; that’s a horror show from a recruitment point of view.
Neville thinks the majority of United’s signings have failed to impress, including Paul Pogba (L)
‘I know that there’s a big call for blaming the players and we’ve blamed the players a lot. I was excited about a lot of those signings, even last year with Sancho, Varane and Ronaldo – great signings. When Di Maria came, we thought, “this will be a signing.”
‘But it’s become a graveyard for football players, this football club. Players are now even considering whether they want to come to the club; you can’t get players in.’
Looking specifically at the current transfer window, United have only managed to bring in three players so far, with Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia following ten Hag to Old Trafford from the Netherlands, while Christian Eriksen arrived on a free transfer.
Neville is concerned that ten Hag has not been given much support over the summer, but has called for the Dutchman to stick to his principles when it comes to team selection in United’s next game at home to Liverpool.
‘There’s got to be a question about who’s influencing recruitment. Ten Hag’s got to have an influence, of course he has. But the Dutch league is not the most precise for this league in terms of transition.
Neville is concerned that Erik ten Hag has not been supported in the transfer market
‘The coach is obviously a fantastic coach – he’s proven that over the last few years. However, he’s been dealt a really bad hand. To not get the players in for him that he wanted in pre-season is a shocker – an absolute shocker.
‘United will ride the wave over the next few months and get through this season but they’re going to have live through the rockiest times they’ve had to live through since they got relegated to Division Two 40-odd years ago.
‘I’ve always said that managers bringing new values in at the start of the season shouldn’t give mixed messages to the players. Stick with what you’re doing, believe in it and hopefully you get the results. [You can’t] start changing every week – moving to a back five, moving to 4-3-3, then 4-4-2.
‘However, he has to be pragmatic next Monday. That’s not about not playing out from the back, it’s just about the physicality of the players. He has to pick the players he trusts the most out on the pitch, who are going to get a result. That’s going to be extremely difficult,’ Neville added.