Gary Neville has explained why he is feeling ‘more confident in Manchester United’s ability to challenge’ for the Premier League title next season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had shown signs of improvement in the weeks prior to football’s suspension amid the coronavirus crisis, registering an 11-game unbeaten run and moving into the latter stages of both the FA Cup and Europa League.
Whether the season will be concluded remains uncertain at present but United should be able to call on the services of fit-again Paul Pogba should the campaign resume, the France international having made just eight appearances in all competitions this season due to persistent ankle problems.
Neville believes the anticipated return of the 27-year-old can be a reason for excitement amongst the Red Devils supporters, and believes the previously wantaway midfielder may now look to stay at the club given the game’s financial uncertainty at present and the promise of an emerging side at Old Trafford.
“I think it is [an exciting prospect]. I think the direction all season of Pogba’s career was always pointing away from Manchester in the sense that there was so much speculation, his agent was coming out all the time,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“I just wonder now with what’s happened, obviously with coronavirus and the economic reset in football, which clubs are actually going to be able to buy Paul Pogba for the reported 80, 90, £100m?
"When I will come back, I want to be the best."
– Paul Pogba pic.twitter.com/ndHBVr5XW5
— United News Hub (@UnitedNewsHub) May 7, 2020
“Which clubs are going to pay the huge wages Paul Pogba is on at Manchester United? I’m not diminishing him as a player, I’m talking about the economic situation that the whole world finds itself in.
“So Paul Pogba may want to sit at Manchester United for the next 12 to 18 months and look at the fact he’s got a club that he can play at with Bruno Fernandes, with Fred, with [Scott] McTominay, with [Nemanja] Matic, [Harry] Maguire, [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, De Gea in goal and then you’ve got Mason Greenwood, [Anthony] Martial and Rashford up front.
“You look at that as a core group of players who are a really good age. Manchester United still need to add three, four or five players of really high quality to that and Manchester United are in a position to be able to capitalise this summer in the transfer market.
“They will be one of the clubs that still has some sort of ability to do some business. Manchester United have found it difficult in these last eight years to keep prices down, to keep wages down and they are going to be in a very, very strong position to hold their nerve this summer.
“And this is a really important summer for Manchester United. If football can get back in the next few weeks, if Man Utd can continue to play how they were pre this lockdown – when they were starting to keep clean sheets, they had a good defensive record, the midfield looked like it was starting to tick and they were still getting goals out of that front three – you starting looking at the glass half full rather than half empty and being the 30 points, or whatever it is, off Liverpool.
“I don’t know why it is but I feel a little more confident in Manchester United’s ability to challenge next season just because of what’s happened and the fact that they started to play a lot better before this lockdown.”