Gary Neville thinks Man Utd possess the firepower to challenge at the top of the Premier League in an “unusual” season.
The Red Devils joined the reigning champions on 33 points after 16 matches by securing a hard-fought 2-1 win from an entertaining New Year’s Day clash with high-flying Aston Villa.
It was an eighth win in 10 Premier League games and Neville has hailed the importance of the victory over Aston Villa with a clash against leaders Liverpool – who Man Utd play in less than two weeks – on the horizon.
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“It was a big, big win for United,” Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast.
“I’m so looking forward to that [Liverpool game]. Not because I’m here thinking United can go to Anfield and win, but because United have become competitive out of nowhere.
“I remember sitting at Old Trafford after that Manchester derby [goalless draw], sat with Roy Keane and Micah Richards, saying that Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were far ahead of the two Manchester clubs at this moment in time.
“If you’d have said at the start of the season, or even five weeks ago, that United would be level with Liverpool, I’d have said no chance, that can’t happen.
“That shows how unusual this season is. What Manchester United have is a lot of match-winners – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Daniel James, Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford. Game-changers.
“They do it in moments, and they don’t always have to be playing well when you have those players on the pitch.
“The performances are getting better, it’s a work in progress, it’s not by any stretch the finished article. At times in games they mesmerise you for 10 minutes, and then can turn into a nightmare for 10 minutes, but there’s confidence building, something is growing, there’s a spirit at the end of the game with the players celebrating was nice to see.”
Neville added: “I think a couple of years ago I said quite publicly at times there was a team I didn’t like watching wearing those red shirts. I see them now, and I felt last season they looked a lot happier, and this season they seem happier again.
“Who knows? I don’t think they’ll win the league, I don’t think they’re quite there, but I didn’t think they’d be anywhere near at this stage, and they are. For that, we’ll look forward to that trip to Anfield with great glee – and hope we can tweak the tail of the tiger a little bit more!”