Manchester United must put a disappointing summer behind them and aim for the Premier League title, according to club legend Gary Neville.
Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils, now 11/1 with Sky Bet to win the league, failed to secure a centre-back before Thursday’s transfer deadline, missing out on the likes Diego Godin, Harry Maguire and Yerry Mina.
Three-time Premier League winner Mourinho spent his summer complaining about a number of topics, from pre-season frustrations to the club’s failure to secure his transfer targets.
They did sign highly-rated Brazilian midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Dontesk, as well as right-back Diogo Dalot from Porto and goalkeeper Lee Grant from Stoke.
They were runners-up last season and Sky Sports pundit Neville says their minimum aim should be to go one better in the Portuguese’s third season at the club.
“The problem with United over the summer is that he [Mourinho] has been so public,” the former United and England defender told Super 6 in a special Facebook Live.
“On tour, not having any players there to start with and not getting the signings he has wanted. It has been messy. Something has gone amiss between the board and Jose in their alignment over who should be brought in, when they should be brought in.
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“What I will say is over the last 12 months Man United have needed a dominant centre-back pairing.
“Whether Jose says he has got one there that can be one of those pair or whether he needs two, I don’t know. What has been obvious is that United have needed to strengthen their defence, not just centre-back but full-back areas as well.
“The job Jose has got to do is build a back four and a protection unit in front of them that can get through this season and still win the Premier League – that has to be the ambition.
“Throughout all this noise over the last few weeks we should not come away from that – the ambition should still be to win the league. Not signing a centre-back doesn’t let anybody off the hook.”
Away from the defence, Neville was quick to look at the positives within the current squad – they managed to keep Paul Pogba despite interest from Barcelona, David De Gea stayed put despite being linked with Real Madrid for a number of years and they still have Alexis Sanchez, who is yet to hit top form since arriving from Arsenal in January.
“[They have] De Gea in net who is outstanding. If you say you were starting a Premier League match with a midfield of Pogba and Fred sat in front of Matic you would not be disappointed, you would think that three should be able to dominate a football match.
“Up front there’s riches – Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Sanchez, Lingard, Mata, we’ve got everything in that front six. They should score 100 goals between them, there is that much talent there – speed, strength, power, guile with Mata and Sanchez, tenacity with Sanchez."
Neville was asked for his prediction for the top four, with him admitting any one of Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea could get the final Champions League spot.
He said Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Spurs – which you can back with Sky Bet in that exact order at 33/1.
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Odds correct as of 1630 BST on 10/08/18