Gary Neville: Being a Manchester United fan under Mourinho is painful

Gary Neville has recently expressed his displeasure at the style of play that United have played over the past few seasons, but the reds are still somewhat finding their feet in the post Ferguson era, and Mourinho has somewhat steadied the ship since arriving back in 2016.

Gary Neville: Being a Manchester United fan under Mourinho is painful
Former United right-back Gary Neville

The Premier League season is less than a week old and already pundits and fans alike are unhappy with the tactics and style of Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.

Former United captain Gary Neville is the latest person to come out and criticise the 55-year-old, voicing his discontent at the tactics and style of football being deployed at Old Trafford.

The former United right-back questioned the change of United’s style since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and the adjustment that the team has gone through.

Louis Van Gaal brought a new wave of football not only to Old Trafford but to the Premier League when he arrived in England back in 2014, playing a 3-5-2 formation.

Post-Ferguson era

Neville was speaking on the Second Captains podcast and said: “United have always played 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 with two wide players. Its ingrained in the club. Don’t change. Don’t make short-term decisions.

"The fans weren’t happy, the stadium was starting to have empty seats and then they think, right, we need to win.”

That’s when they brought in Jose Mourinho, who is seen as a winner, at all costs and one of those is the style of play, which has seemingly suffered.

Neville compared the United team of today to that of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side, who Neville said is a team that “likes pushing up the pitch and playing high.”

He also added: “How many Manchester United forwards do you see that run about like Tottenham ones? Mourinho is happy to sit back a bit deeper and have a more robust, physical player.

"As a Manchester United fan, it’s painful to watch.”

United a work in progress

In terms of style of play, Neville might be vindicated after a ropey display against Leicester City on the opening day. The days of free-flowing, exciting football have not been seen at Old Trafford since the days of Ferguson, but Mourinho has somewhat delivered.

He has brought stability back to Old Trafford and achieved United’s best Premier League finish since 2013 last season. The former Chelsea boss has also brought silverware in the form of the EFL Cup and the Europa League in his first season.

It’s understandable that fans and former players are frustrated with the Portuguese man and his football as they have been spoilt in terms of success over the past 20 years, but these days were inevitable following Ferguson's departure.