Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are demonstrating that Manchester United has what it takes to compete with Liverpool’s top three, says Gary Neville.
United overtook Aston Villa with another ruthless offensive display on Thursday as a 3-0 win at Villa Park saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side extend their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.
United became the first team in the history of the Premier League to win four consecutive games with a margin of three or more goals, a race that brought them into contention for the Champions League qualification with four games remaining.
Neville believes that Liverpool’s title-winning attacking trio remains the best attacking force in the Premier League, but says United’s recent performances could indicate their possible successors.
“Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have matured, they are established, they are the real deal – the best three in the Premier League. I was saying that even when Manchester City was winning the league,” he said Podcast by Gary Neville.
“The three that United have achieved are not yet at the level of Liverpool’s top three, you wouldn’t expect them to be, but they have the talent and the skill.
“There have been questions if Rashford was good enough, if Martial was good enough and Greenwood had obviously not emerged then, but they are showing that they are good enough, that they can play and that they will improve.
“Liverpool’s top three are ahead, but it’s exciting for Manchester United. If you believe in young players and their opportunities in the positions they want to play in, you’ll be amazed at what you can get.”
Neville: Outstanding Greenwood can be anything he wants
Greenwood stressed his status as one of the most promising talents in English football with United’s second goal at Villa Park – his fourth goal in three games.
He saw the 18-year-old become only the second teenager to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances for United after Wayne Rooney, and the fourth player aged 18 or younger to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances.
Neville believes that Greenwood is already above Rashford and Martial in the order to catch Old Trafford and thinks the time has come for the recognition of England.
“I think Greenwood will naturally become a central striker over time. There will come a time when he will step forward, he is stepping up the game for fun now,” he added.
“He is exceptional, his talent is incredible. He has everything, composure, reception of the ball, awareness, final skill.
“Look at Martial, Rashford and Greenwood and think about who would put your money to finish from all areas of the field. Inside the box, out of the box, left foot, right foot – it would be Greenwood. He is 18 years old and that’s the exciting part.
“It is child’s play for him to be in and around the English team. Gareth Southgate is getting more and more options every month, players are in development and entering the best teams now.
“Greenwood has such a brilliant talent, if he continues to work hard and keeps his feet on the ground, he can be anything he wants.”
The formidable United has its bravado
Neville added: “Manchester United are playing with confidence, arrogance, particularly against the teams that are at the bottom of the table, teams that have struggled to take down in the past.
“They seem authoritative, have possession, control and patience. They are so confident now that they can go from walking to quality injection through Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Greenwood, Martial, Rashford. They have so many options and United seems formidable .
“They are not yet there in terms of Manchester City and Liverpool, that is where they have to go, but they are on an ascending trajectory and certainly they are much better than before.
“There is reason for optimism. You thought that there was no midfield, that Pogba was about to leave, they did not have the right wing and suddenly Greenwood appears, the four and the goalkeeper seemed trembling at times, but they are joining .
“It seems much more positive. It is not a time to get carried away, it is still a time to invest and improve the team, but it is much better for Solskjaer.”
Champions League and a trophy?
United’s victory at Villa Park led them to a point from fourth place in Leicester, which they will face on the last day of the season.
Neville is confident that his former club will surpass the Foxes and qualify for next season’s Champions League, regardless of Manchester City’s appeal against UEFA’s two-year ban, and believes that there may also be safe silverware.
“Leicester had an excellent season, for them being ahead of United at this stage is a great result,” he said. “But you’d be surprised if United didn’t go after him. They played a good series of games and also played Leicester.
“United seem so dominant right now. You would almost like to see them play with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to see where they are, although this could come in the FA Cup and Europa League matches.
“It has been comfortable for United in the past few weeks and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want those great tests because they seem ready for them. They have been so comfortable in the games and will continue to have a really good season.
“Sometimes this season I was wondering what would happen, but I think they will surpass Leicester and enter the Champions League, and they could even win a trophy to play in the two cup competitions they are still in.”
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