Gary Neville has described Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat as a ‘massive missed opportunity’ and has explained why he is ‘demoralised’ by the club’s loss to Leicester.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side crashed out of the FA Cup on Sunday following a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the King Power Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho scoring twice as the Foxes reached the competition’s last four for the first time since 1982.
Defeat extends Solskjaer’s record of near misses since taking charge of the Red Devils in 2018, with the Norwegian yet to win a major trophy since his appointment at Old Trafford.
Neville has now expressed his disappointment at the club’s latest cup exit and believes the defeat to Leicester should be regarded as a missed opportunity for his former side, with the Foxes now set to face Southampton for a place in the Wembley final.
“Been a good week, not surprising they go to Milan and do what they did because they are good away from home,” he said on the Gary Neville podcast.
“Beating West Ham last week, and then I’m surprised that the team has been rotated so much.
“I know he has been doing that, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but this was a real chance. You think about the semi final draw that occurred at half time in that game, which meant the winner played Southampton.
“It’s not a gimmy against Southampton in the semi final by any stretch of the imagination but what an opportunity. And I do think believe that group of players need to win a trophy under Solskjaer.
“Yes, of course, finishing second would be the priority at the start of the season and winning a trophy will now be the priority with that, they only have the Europa League left but that was a real good one today.
“They have a decent record at Leicester and I was in the car listening to the game, get back from behind and think ‘here we go’ not surprised with United away from home – but then that second and third goes in and it’s a massive missed opportunity.”
Neville admits the defeat has left him demoralised as United’s wait for a major trophy continues, the Red Devils without silverware since winning a League Cup and Europa League double in 2016/17.
FA Cup semi-finals are set 🔒
Leicester vs. Southampton
Chelsea vs. Manchester City pic.twitter.com/4zsIhsKv5B
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 21, 2021
Currently a huge 14 points adrift of Manchester City in the Premier League title race, the Europa League remains the club’s sole chance of success this season ahead of a quarter-final meeting with Granada.
Neville believes the FA Cup offered a realistic chance of ending the wait for a trophy this season and says United had a chance to make a statement of intent by stopping Manchester City’s pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple.
“I am demoralised a little bit tonight as a United fan because I do feel that was a really good one to go for this season,’ he added.
“And if you want to catch Manchester City, you’ve got to beat them. Got to beat them in the big game and a big competition.
“Spurs have that chance in a few weeks in a final and if Manchester City are going to be in a final, I know they have Chelsea, then Manchester United have got to be there to stop them.
“You can’t rely on other teams to stop them if you are the second best team in the country. If you have a half decent record against City, which United under Solskjaer have, then you’ve got to be the ones to stop them.
“If you think about in 1999, when Arsenal won the double the year before, we were the only team that could stop them in the semi final and we did stop them, hard work but we did stop them.
“Same in the league, you can’t wait for other teams to stop them for you, if you want to catch teams you have to leave one on them and I am disappointed with that tonight.
“I think United fans are disappointed, I have seen the reaction on social media.”