Football

Manchester United must sign a centre-back: Gary Neville

Former Red Devil says Lindelof and Maguire can't play together after 3-1 defeat

Manchester United need to prioritise the signing of a centre-back over the pursuit of wide attacker Jadon Sancho, according to Gary Neville.

He made the comments after United began their English Premier League season with a poor 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford yesterday morning (Singapore time), with Victor Lindelof having a particular bad game, conceding a penalty and being culpable for the Eagles' two other goals.

The Red Devils have been repeatedly linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund star Sancho throughout the summer in their search for a right winger.

However, former United and England defender Neville warned that his former club would not win the league until they split up their central defensive partnership of Harry Maguire and Lindelof.

"We can talk about Sancho all we like but until United get a centre-back who can run and defend one-on-ones, they are never going to win the league," Neville, who won eight EPL titles, told Sky Sports.

"They are never going to win the Premier League with that centre-back pairing. They have to get a mobile, dominant centre-half in alongside either Lindelof or Maguire.

"The best centre-back partnerships have always had that really quick one who has lightning pace to get across and snuff out the danger. Lindelof and Maguire just don't have that."

Neville is the latest ex-United player to slam the club's transfer activity, after Rio Ferdinand last week unfavourably compared United's recruitment to Chelsea's.

United have signed only Donny van de Beek from Ajax Amsterdam. He scored off the bench but it was ex-United man Wilfried Zaha who stole the show with a brace after Andros Townsend opened the scoring for Palace.

Ex-United fullback Patrice Evra summed up United's transfer activity on Sky Sports, saying: "United make more impact on social media than in reality. That is why the fans get disappointed and frustrated...

"I'm a positive man, but I feel exhausted and it's only the first day of the season!

" I don't want to not give Crystal Palace credit, but I think Man United did everything to make them look like Barcelona or Real Madrid. I'm burning inside."

Former United winger Ryan Giggs, meanwhile, questioned the motivation of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He told Premier League Productions: "We can talk about new players coming in, but there's enough quality on that pitch to beat Crystal Palace.

"Just the intensity wasn't there. Crystal Palace wanted it more, in the 50-50s, they just looked better for the whole 90 minutes... actually Palace could have... scored more.

"Palace were the better team... (but) they haven't had to do something special."

Eagles winger Townsend agreed that his side could have scored more, saying on the BBC: "We knew Manchester United didn't play last week and that we had the mental advantage.

"If anything, we could have won it by more than three goals.We had some chances... It could have been a more handsome result."

United manager Solskjaer, meanwhile, agreed Palace were the better side but bemoaned the Red Devils' lack of match fitness. The Eagles started their EPL campaign one week earlier than United with a 1-0 win over Southampton before a second-string side lost to Bournemouth on penalties in the League Cup.

Said Solskjaer: "You can see we are short (of match fitness) and they deserved the points. They were sharper than us in the challenges.

"You can't be too surprised we are not at our best yet because this is the first game we've played since the middle of August. We have had a very short and strange pre-season."

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