Football

Neville: United better under Mourinho

Neville says Red Devils play with more pace now compared to last season under van Gaal

They are lying in sixth place, 13 points below leaders Chelsea and six points off a Champions League berth.

It has been a roller-coaster season for Manchester United, but the crucial victory over Tottenham on Sunday could be a turning point for Jose Mourinho and the Red Devils.

Former club captain Gary Neville has been impressed by United's showings in recent weeks and believes they look a more dangerous side with pace in their ranks, while a winning formula has been "stumbled on" at the back.

The 41-year-old admitted that he likes the current side "a lot more" than the one pieced together by Louis van Gaal.

"I know that over the last few weeks, Jose Mourinho has been criticised at times," he said on the Gary Neville Podcast.

"When you don't win games and you say your team are playing well and it will come, but it doesn't, you can sometimes look a little bit foolish as a coach.

MORE BALANCED UNITED

"But I like this team a lot better than the team of last season, even though they might be in a worse points position.

"I like the way they are playing more. I like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and I like the way Anthony Martial has played in the last couple of weeks on the left. There's pace back in the team."

"They have Zlatan Ibrahimovic who holds the ball up and they have a midfield that is mobile with (Michael) Carrick as the composure with Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba in front.

"It's a better balanced team and, even though the back four don't look great on paper, it's performing really well. Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have really been good these last few weeks.

"Mourinho has stumbled on something with that back four but, in terms of the team, I like them a lot more than last season.

"They have to kick on from this and get the results their performances have been suggesting."

Buoyed by the win over Spurs, Mourinho is hopeful his team can start to reel in the sides above them.

"We still have our ambitions this year and obviously to win this match puts us in a position where we can feel them (the teams above)," he said.

"We can be in touch with fifth, with fourth. We can feel them with so many matches to go, so we can say this result was very important for that.

"We were six points from Tottenham. We lose today and six goes to nine. And nine is more difficult than three. So the result was important."

However, the victory was marred by an injury to Mkhitaryan who ended United's run of four Premier League home matches without a win with his thumping first-half strike.

Elation was then replaced by anxiety as the Armenian's afternoon was cut short following a late Danny Rose challenge.

Mkhitaryan left the field on a stretcher, but Mourinho expects his ankle injury to keep him out for only a couple of weeks.

"The injury doesn't look like a big one," Mourinho said.

"It doesn't look like one needing surgery or months of recovery. It depends always on the player - anatomy, physiology, mentality - but, hopefully, it is not a big thing."

Mauricio Pochettino was not too downbeat given Spurs' display at Old Trafford.

"Well, it was an even game, very competitive," the Tottenham boss said.

"We are a little bit disappointed with the result, not our performance. We can play better, but we competed in a difficult game. Now we need to improve." - WIRE SERVICES

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