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Manchester United’s first title challenge in four years, says Gary Neville

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes this season will mount to United’s first title challenge in four years. More importantly, he believes it will be the first title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. I believe this is important as I feel United as a fanbase seem to be looking back with nostalgia at the glory years under Fergie, and we need to move on as soon as possible. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean that United need to move into a new era now after all the success Fergie brought us. A new era of success with a different man in the dugout.

United have started the season well. They currently sit two points off the top spot behind noisy neighbours Manchester City and are still unbeaten in the league. They also sit top of their Champions League group. Neville believes United are showing a consistency now that was not present under David Moyes or Louis van Gaal. Neville told ESPN his thoughts;

“There’s consistency, definitely.

“There’s strength, there’s power, they’re tough to beat, there are a lot of very good things. 

“This season will be a big challenge to win the league, City are looking fantastic.”

In that sense, Neville is right: it will be a big challenge to win the league, and City do look very good, in particular going forward. They seemed to have ironed out some of the defensive issues they had last season but I don’t think they are as defensively sturdy as everyone is making out. The fact is, if Stoke can go to the Etihad and score twice then surely teams like Chelsea or Spurs can go there and cut them open? Neville continued:

“But there’s something there that tells me they are capable of winning the league, and I’ve not seen that for the last three or four years. I’ve not seen a team capable of challenging, let alone winning it.

“What I’m seeing now is a team that’s consistent, a team that’s hard to beat, that defends well and has got goals in it, so it’s got all the credentials.”

I agree with Neville here. This United team, collectively, seems hard to break down and the mentality feels different compared to teams under Moyes or Van Gaal. Considering that United haven’t finished above fourth since Sir Alex retired, you can definitely sense the switch in mental attitude.

Neville feels that Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will battle it out for the title, as they did in Spain when they were managing Real Madrid and Barcelona.

“They look like the two. I love watching Tottenham, but have they got the depth to challenge United and City this season? I’m not sure.

“Arsenal? No. Chelsea look like they’re in a difficult moment and Liverpool are not quite there, either. So it is United and City.”

I think Chelsea can still come up strong, although I agree that they seem to be struggling at the moment. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Conte left soon as he appears to be getting frustrated at Stamford Bridge. In regards to Tottenham Hotspur, I’m in the same boat as Neville, I enjoy watching them but they haven’t got the strength in depth to compete in my opinion.

Mourinho has won a title in his second season at every club he has been at, suggesting the odds are in United’s favour in that respect. However, there’s no doubt this will be his biggest challenge yet because City look fantastic at the moment and will take some beating. It’s still October though, so as the saying goes; let’s take it one game at a time.

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