GARY NEVILLE reckons there are three issues Manchester United need to sort before his former side can compete for the Premier League title again.
Unfortunately for United fans, the three areas he says must be improved are pretty fundamental to winning football matches.
The Sky Sports pundit, 43, said: “United’s aim has to be to win the title. But to win it you have to think about the areas on the pitch.
“They can’t keep a clean sheet at the back. The midfield can’t pass the ball forward. The front three don’t have the precision of Liverpool or Man City.
“So in each part United are behind the other teams so to think about comparing them is unfair because they are nowhere near them.”
So in Neville’s opinion, Jose Mourinho has a lot of work to do in order to get United’s defence, midfield and attack in shape to mount a title challenge.
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And he certainly has a point – despite starting the same back four for the last six games, Manchester United have not kept a clean sheet.
Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw make up the current defence in front of David De Gea.
United’s last clean sheet came in the 0-0 draw with Valencia on October 2.
The Red Devils missed the midfield creativity of Paul Pogba yesterday, who was out injured, while Mourinho is continuing to experiment with his attacking trio.
Manchester United slipped 12 points behind rivals City following the 3-1 derby defeat at the Etihad yesterday.
It means they are the same distance away from the reigning champions as they are from relegation-threatened Cardiff who sit in the bottom three on eight points.
But fortunately The Special One thinks Manchester United will avoid relegation this season.
United are currently eighth, behind Bournemouth and Watford and seven points off the top four.
And Neville is concerned the chasm is too wide for his former side to bridge.
He added: “We shouldn’t compare them at this time as there is an absolute gulf in performance levels. 12 points is about right after 12 games.
“The biggest problem is how they close the gap on the top four and that race, not the title race. They are on a different level all over the pitch.
“They weren’t going to win today unless they had a set piece.”