Gary Neville claims Harry Kane is playing as though someone pooped his party after the Tottenham star drew a fifth successive blank in the Premier League.

The England skipper had not experienced such a league goals drought since August 2016, and his loss of form follows a turbulent period in his career when he looked set to leave Spurs.

Kane appeared destined for a move to Manchester City, but that transfer did not materialise as the Premier League champions could not prise him from the north London club's clutches.

He had five goal attempts in Sunday's 3-1 derby defeat to Arsenal but could not find a way past Aaron Ramsdale.

"He doesn't look happy," Neville said.

Pointing to Tottenham's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in their previous game, Neville said: "Last week was a risk, I thought, shoving him out on the left wing. He was out on the left wing last week.

"Today I thought he did play higher, to be fair, but the balls played up to him were just long punts in the first 20 minutes.

"Harry doesn't look himself in terms of his body language. He looks like he's still carrying over the situation from over the summer.

"He could still have had two or three goals today and a penalty, so there's still a contribution, but he's just not himself. Neither is Son [Heung-min].

"Son and him look like they've had their balloons burst at a party as a kid. That's what it looks like."

Neville said Spurs have "good senior pros" in their ranks, as he sought an explanation for why their form has nosedived since starting the league campaign with three straight wins.

Rough losses to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and now Arsenal have seen them plummet from the top of the league and into mid-table.

Nuno Espirito Santo may have a big job on his hands in turning Spurs back into a winning side, and Neville suspects some players are pining for a coach in the mould of former boss Mauricio Pochettino.

"Those players to me look like they want a high-pressing, Pochettino-style coach that plays out from the back and gets the centre-backs on the six-yard line, rather than one that sits behind the ball and counter-attacks," former Manchester United captain Neville said on Sky Sports.

With the derby defeat, Nuno became the first Spurs boss to lose as many as four times in his opening 10 fixtures since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Kane attempted just four passes in the first half at Emirates Stadium and was successful with only five of his 11 passes across the 90 minutes.

He has also failed to get a goal in back-to-back games against Arsenal for the first time in his Tottenham career.

Former Spurs captain Ledley King said of his old team-mate: "He cares, but there's no doubt he's out of shape at the moment. He's out of form. He's a big part for the club so when he's not playing well we struggle."

Gary Neville cannot understand why the Manchester United hierarchy are not doing everything to sign prolific striker Harry Kane in order to emerge again as genuine Premier League title contenders.

United have spent in excess of £100million in recent weeks to recruit Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane from Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively.

But Neville believes his former club should not rest on their laurels and must now lure Kane north from Tottenham before the transfer window closes on August 31.

Kane, who made his first appearance of the season off the bench in the win over Wolves on Sunday, sparked frenzied speculation around his future when reports emerged in May that he wants to leave Spurs.

Manchester City have been strongly linked, but Neville thinks it is United who need to make a statement signing in order to keep pace with their rivals and back boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He said on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football: "Chelsea, we've seen what they've done with [£97m signing Romelu] Lukaku. We've seen that [Virgil] Van Dijk has come back [from injury] for Liverpool and we know that Man City are in for [Jack] Grealish and Kane. If they get Kane, I think there's a massive problem for United.

"I'm struggling to understand why Manchester United aren't going that extra step this transfer window.

"Sancho for 70-odd million was last year's money and I think with regards to Manchester United they've always gone after the best player in the Premier League, the best English player in the Premier League, or British player historically.

"[Anthony] Martial, [Daniel] James, [Jesse] Lingard – you're talking about potentially offloading a lot of wages there, potentially getting some transfer fees in.

"Why are they not going in for Harry Kane this week?  

"I think if Harry Kane entered Manchester United you could get up to 90-95 points.  

"Without him, they are still going to have to replace [Edinson] Cavani and Martial next summer – Martial is not going to do it, Cavani has only got one year left.  

"They are going to have to buy a centre-forward at some point – why not get the man now and give Ole that impetus?"

Gary Neville has urged the FA to tie down their "greatest asset" Gareth Southgate ahead of England's first appearance in a major tournament final in 55 years.

The Three Lions are out to win the European Championship for the first time in their history on Sunday when they face Italy at Wembley Stadium.

Win or lose, this run to the final is the latest mark of the progress made by international football's perennial underachievers, who also made it to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup under Southgate.

And Neville believes English football chiefs must do all they can to keep the man who has masterminded these recent successes in charge for as long as possible.

He told Sky Sports: "I said it four or five weeks ago that I thought that Gareth Southgate is our greatest asset and I'm still absolutely of that opinion. 

"There is nobody in this country that knows international football better than Gareth Southgate in terms of tournament football and that's got the ability to coach. 

"Many of us have been to many tournaments, but he's then been in the U21s.

"He's been in the system, he knows exactly what it's like to coach in the system of the FA, understands the politics and the way in which the FA works and accepts that and [doesn't] make it a problem, which many managers in the past have. 

"All those things that are difficult to contend with, the media, the handling of players, the club v country stuff - he's seen all that before in his playing career and U21s career and all those things that he's seen happen wrong before he's been able to put right through his experiences as England manager and that's why he is our greatest asset. 

"We should try and keep him for as long as we possibly can, that's not to say we'll win [against Italy], that's not to say we'll win in the next tournament or do well in the next two tournaments but I genuinely don't believe there is anyone who has got the experience, knowledge and capability to perform for England like he has."

 

A raucous atmosphere is sure to greet England as they step out onto the Wembley turf aiming to secure their first trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup at the same stadium.

But Neville expects the players to be better prepared for the emotion of the occasion after experiencing similar during their semi-final win over Denmark.

He continued: "It'd be interesting to know whether the pressure impacted the players in the first half an hour of the game against Denmark because the first 20 minutes after kick-off - it was absolutely mesmerising, spine-tingling to the point where it had an impact upon us [in the stadium].

"No England player would have seen that since Euro '96 so I can't believe that didn't have an impact on them in the first half an hour.

"They were in a special place on Wednesday but I think because of that they will be used to it and will be better prepared for what's going to happen [in the final].

"Germany was good but Wednesday was absolutely off the scale against Denmark. It was brilliant."

 

Gareth Southgate could spring a surprise by starting Jadon Sancho instead of Bukayo Saka for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.

That is the view of former England defender Gary Neville, who believes the spot on the right wing that was filled by Saka in the semi-final win over Denmark is the only position up for grabs.

Neville would have been tempted to play Marcus Rashford if the Manchester United forward had been in better form.

Instead he believes another soon-to-be United player Sancho, who started the quarter-final against Ukraine in Saka's absence, could be the man who gets the nod if 19-year-old is indeed left out.

Saka has had an impressive tournament for England and Neville acknowledges it could be an "unpopular" decision.

He feels it would be easier for Southgate to pick an unchanged side and then take Saka off in the second half as he did in the extra-time triumph in the last four.

The Arsenal youngster has been put forward for many press interviews prior to the Italy clash, but Neville thinks that could be a red herring.

 

"There is only one possible change and that's Saka," he said to ITV Sport.

"I know that would possibly be an unpopular thing to say.

"He may say [to Saka] go for 60 minutes and we'll get you off - which he's done before - he may say that and go with the same team. 

"But I just wonder whether he might bring someone else in.

"Actually putting him up for interviews before the final makes me think he might not be playing.

"If Rashford was in form I'd go Rashford-Sterling just to get in behind [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Leonardo] Bonucci but Rashford hasn't been in the greatest of form. 

"I would think it would be Sancho if Saka doesn't play.

"I think you have to play two of the quicker ones, so it would be Saka, Sancho or Rashford with Sterling on the other side."

 

Phil Foden missed training on Saturday with a knock and the Manchester City star is the only injury doubt for England.

While he called the development "a blow", Neville believes England can cope due to their strength in depth, particularly in the attacking positions.

He told Sky Sports: "It would be a blow for Phil Foden personally and for the team because he is an important part of those six or seven forward players that we have that float around Harry Kane.

"One of the great strengths in this tournament is that you can start Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling and bring on Jack Grealish or Jadon Sancho or Phil Foden and not really drop in quality that much.

"We have got an exceptional amount of talent in those positions.

"We are better in the latter half of games, the danger against Italy is that if we do start badly in that first half an hour then the Italians will punish us more than Denmark did.

"You don’t want to be behind to a team with the defensive record that they have.

"It's important that Foden is fit for him personally but if not then an injury is an injury, it's important that we have a lot of players who are fit in those positions going into the last 20 minutes of games which has become critical for us."

Manchester United's rescheduled Premier League clash with Liverpool is set to go ahead on time after renewed fan protests were effectively controlled.

The sides' original meeting on Sunday, May 2 was called off after supporters broke into Old Trafford and stormed the pitch as part of protests against United's ownership.

Several police officers were injured during the ensuing clashes, which forced the postponement of the game on safety grounds.

However, the rearranged fixture looks likely to go ahead after United, along with local police, took steps to prepare for fresh protests taking place on Thursday evening.

Barriers were erected around Old Trafford to prevent fans from entering, while the United players arrived individually by car earlier in the day before taking a pre-match nap at the stadium.

Liverpool, meanwhile, sent a decoy coach that was momentarily blocked by a group of fans, but ultimately arrived at a side of the ground clear of supporters and without issue.

As such, it is currently expected that the game will kick off on time (8.15pm GMT).

United's American owners have been the target of renewed ire from fans in the aftermath of failed plans to join a breakaway Super League alongside the Premier League's 'big six'.

Consequently, United legend Roy Keane does not expect supporter anger at the Glazers to subside any time soon.

He told Sky Sports: "Manchester United fans are not done with this, we saw some protests a few weeks ago, but I think there is still a lot to come. 

"The concern is that when the fans can come back to the stadium, you could have 70,000 fans showing up at Old Trafford, frustrated with what happened. Things can get much worse."

Keane's former United team-mate, Gary Neville, believes the ongoing protests are serving to damage the club's brand, which in turn should hurt the Glazers.

He said: "Let's be clear, what we’ve seen on that forecourt before which is effectively Man United turned into a prison, it’s a devastating image for the Manchester United Football Club brand around the world, let's just note that. 

"You have to put prison walls up around your ground and have hundreds and hundreds of police officers on a game where fans aren't attending, there is something that has gone badly wrong."

Roy Keane believes Manchester United fans have "had enough" and predicted further protests after Sunday's game with Liverpool was postponed due to scenes at Old Trafford and in the city.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were due to face the reigning Premier League champions at home at 16.30 local time, but kick-off was delayed due to demonstrations against the club's owners, the Glazer family.

After protestors assembled outside the ground, some gained access to Old Trafford and entered the pitch, while others gathered outside the Lowry Hotel where the United squad stay prior to home matches.

Around an hour after the game had been due to kick off, United announced it had been postponed "due to safety and security considerations around the protest". The clubs will agree to a new date with the Premier League.

United fans have long been vehemently opposed to the Glazer ownership due to the significant levels of debt added to the club following their leveraged takeover in 2005, but the failed attempt by the Red Devils and the Premier League's 'big six' to join a breakaway European Super League has fuelled animosity in recent weeks.

While the Super League appears dead in the water for now after the six English clubs withdrew from the plans, anger towards executives such as the Glazers and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has abated little among supporters.

Former United captain Keane believes Sunday's protests were just the start, telling Sky Sports: "The United fans have had enough and they're doing it because they love the club.

"It's not just as a result of what's happened the last two weeks with the Super League... it's been building for a number of years. They've come to the end and feel enough is enough. It's a huge statement for the game to be called off. 

"There's been a build-up in tension, whether it be about ticketing, poor communication, things going on in the background.

"The leadership of the club has not been good enough. When they look at the owners, they feel it's just about making money. The United fans have looked at the Glazers and thought 'enough is enough'. 

"They're doing it because they love the club. Some people won't agree with it but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice.

"This will go out all over the world, and hopefully the owners of Manchester United will sit up and take note. These fans are deadly serious and there's more to come, and this is just the start of it from United fans – I guarantee it."

Fellow former captain Gary Neville, who was scathing over the proposed formation of the Super League, said: "I think it's a warning to the owners of the football club that, ultimately, they're not going to accept what they've done in the last couple of weeks.

"Beyond today, it should be about reform. Protesting is the right of every single person in this country, we must retain that, but beyond today, it's about making sure that fans across the country unite to make sure there's reform in English football, or else [these protests] will be a waste of time.

"There are people protesting in London today against the government trying to stop protests! We have to allow protests, but there is always the potential of there being a flashpoint because there will always be one or two people who may have had a drink, they might just be coming to antagonise, or they might be coming for ulterior motives. That will always happen.

"The reality is that what happened two weeks ago has ignited the United fan base into life again. It's brought them back to life.

"Fifteen years ago, there were a lot of fans who were upset, and every one I speak to are absolutely disgusted by what happened a fortnight ago. United were leading this thing, as were Liverpool, two weeks ago. They are the biggest clubs in this country."

Pep Guardiola may be remembered as the greatest manager of all time but will not want to leave Manchester City without winning the Champions League, says Gary Neville.

City defeated Tottenham 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to lift the EFL Cup for a fourth successive season under the Spaniard, while a third Premier League title of his reign looks a certainty – they hold a 10-point lead at the summit with just five games remaining.

Guardiola arrived in England following hugely successful spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning the league on three occasions at each club.

However, according to former Manchester United defender Neville, the impact of the former Spain international goes well beyond just what he has achieved with his own teams.

"You just have to recognise Manchester City's outstanding football, the outstanding achievement of winning this trophy four times on the bounce," Neville said on his podcast for Sky Sports.

"Pep Guardiola has an outstanding record in cup competitions, it's 14 victories and one defeat in 15 finals, it's absolutely out of this world. The football they play is magnificent, it really is.

"I think Manchester City may have the greatest manager of all time and we'll look back in 10, 15, 20 years' time… just the way he has infiltrated countries, dominated football but also influenced others, I don't think I've ever seen it.

"You look at how he's won in three different countries, he's now dominating in this country – he's going to win the league title in the next few weeks, that's three in five years and these are massive achievements."

Yet while Guardiola has dominated domestically with City, Champions League glory has eluded him, as it did with Bayern.

He won the competition twice with Barca – in 2009 and then again in 2011 – but has never made it beyond the last eight with City prior to this season, with Paris Saint-Germain standing in their way of a place in the final for the first time in the club's history.

"The big one is the Champions League and it's a huge couple of weeks coming up against Paris Saint-Germain because if they were to win that, then they would have a great chance," Neville said.

"That would be the cherry on the icing on the top of the cake of Guardiola's reign because I don't think he can leave without winning it. It would feel incomplete if he left this country without winning the Champions League.

"I know it happened in Germany but here, Man City will give him the time to do it and it almost feels like he has to so he can say that the job is done."

Fenway Sports Group's (FSG) position at Liverpool may become untenable after their attempt to launch a European Super League, according to club great Jamie Carragher, while Gary Neville believes time is up for the Glazer family at Manchester United.

On Sunday, Liverpool and United, along with Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, along with teams from Spain and Italy, announced their intention to join a breakaway competition, sparking furore across the spectrum.

UEFA responded in force, threatening bans to clubs and players alike, with FIFA offering their support.

Governing bodies and football associations also condemned the move, while supporters gathered outside grounds to protest.

In a remarkable shift, the pressure told on Tuesday, with City formally announcing their withdrawal from the competition. Liverpool and United, along with the other English teams, followed suit.

While it remains to be seen what punishment, if any, will be handed out, Sky Sports pundits Carragher and Neville believe the ownerships of their respective clubs may have run their course.

"I'm as angry at Liverpool now as I was yesterday," Carragher said shortly before Liverpool's confirmation they had left the competition.  

"Jurgen Klopp has thrown them under the bus, their own captain has thrown them under the bus, with the rest of the squad. There's nothing left for Liverpool's owners in what they're doing, what they're hanging on for.

"I actually think the situation with Liverpool's owners now – I don't see how they can continue. They can't just leave the club, obviously, it's a business. It's worth a lot of money if they sell it, but I don't see a future for the ownership of FSG at Liverpool anymore on the back of this, and I think they're just making it worse for themselves the longer they hang in."

Joel and Avram Glazer have long been unpopular with United's fanbase, meanwhile. On Tuesday, it was confirmed Ed Woodward – the club's executive vice-chairman – would be leaving at the end of 2021.

Neville added: "Ed Woodward is the trunk of the tree, we now need to go for the roots. [The Glazers] have declared their hand, while they were peacefully sat at the club, never showing their hand.

"They were taking money out of the club, leveraging the club, there's nothing we could do about that once the club became a PLC but they attacked every single football fan in this country with what they did.

"The Glazers have no place in Manchester anymore and we have to work hard to ensure that ownership rules in this country are changed, that we have a system whereby this can not happen, whether it's government intervention, an independent regulator, a fan-owned club rule.

"Whatever it is, we have to make sure that this is a catalyst for change. The people have spoken, we were on the brink of anarchy if this continued. These six sets of owners in this country and the other ones in Europe have misread this situation badly."

Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal should be relegated from the Premier League if they announce their intention to join a European Super League, Gary Neville has claimed.

UEFA was joined by the top five European Leagues and the English Football Association in opposing the plans, which are reportedly set to be announced on Sunday.

The Premier League's "big six" teams, plus Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Milan and Juventus are the 12 sides said to be involved. Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are not included.

During United's win over Burnley on Sunday, Neville suggested points deductions would be a reasonable punishment and, after the match, the Sky Sports pundit expanded on his fury at the proposals, labelling it a "criminal act against football fans."

"The reaction to it is that it's been damned and rightly so. I'm a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years but I'm disgusted, absolutely disgusted," said the former Red Devils full-back.

"It's an absolute disgrace and we have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league and that includes my club.

"I've been calling for 12 months to have an independent regulator to bring checks and balances in place to stop this happening, it's pure greed. They're imposters, the owners of Liverpool, United, City – they're nothing to do with football in this country, a hundred and odd years of history of fans who love their clubs and they need protecting.

"United aren't even in the Champions League, Arsenal aren't, they're a shambles of a club at the moment, Tottenham aren't, and they want a God-given right to be in there? Stop these clubs having a power base, enough is enough.

"The motivation is greed. My reaction earlier wasn't an emotional one, deduct them all points tomorrow, put them at the bottom of the league and take the money off them.

"You've got to stamp on this, it's criminal, it's a criminal act against football fans, make no mistake about it. Deduct points, their money and punish them.

"If they announce a letter of intent has been signed then they should be punished, heavily, massive fines, points deductions, take the titles off them, who cares.

"Give the title to Burnley, let Fulham stay up, relegate United, Liverpool and Arsenal, those three clubs have the history and should be the ones that should suffer most."

Neville also hit out at the owners of the clubs involved, adding: "They're bottle merchants, you never hear from the owners of these clubs, absolute bottle merchants, they've got no voice, and they'll probably hide in a few weeks and say it was nothing to do with them, they were only talking about it.

"Seriously in the midst of a pandemic, a crisis, football clubs at national level going bust nearly, furloughing players, clubs on the edge and these lot are having Zoom calls about breaking away and creating more greed. Joke."

According to reports, a statement is expected at 21:30 GMT. It has been reported that Madrid president Florentino Perez will act as the competition's chairman, with Liverpool, United and Arsenal owners John W Henry, Joel Glazer and Stan Kroenke also having major roles.

"They'll be amending that statement as we speak, they'll have seen the reaction," Neville said. "They'll be backtracking down the road because they are bottle merchants these lot. 

"I'd like to think that United and Liverpool would stand and think something's not right here, let's collaborate with the game to try and get a better competition, a better Champions League, I'm not for everything standing still but this is a grab, when the timing is hideous. What world are these people living in?"

Put on the spot at full-time, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was unable to offer any insight, telling Sky Sports: "I saw the news and the speculation. I can't really say too much, my focus has just been on this game, I got the news today as well.

"I haven't looked into [what it would mean for United] so I just need to sit down and see what it is. The club will probably comment on it later."

Plans for a European Super League are set to be announced on Sunday, drawing the ire of Manchester United greats Gary Neville and Roy Keane.

Reports emerged on Sunday claiming that 12 clubs – including the Premier League's "big six" – are to announce the new competition. 

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter are the other sides involved, though the proposal will reportedly include an expansion option to 16 or 18 teams.

UEFA responded strongly, insisting it will do everything in its power to block the plans, including banning the 12 clubs from their competitions, while there has also been a suggestion that players may not be allowed to represent their countries on the international stage. The Premier League also condemned the proposals.

While commentating on United's clash with Burnley, Neville made no secret of his opposition to the idea of a Super League, suggesting point deductions were a worthy punishment.

"I'm not against modernisation of football competitions," Neville said on Sky Sports.

"We have the Premier League, the Champions League, I don't think anyone can deny, but I think to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID, the economic crisis that exists for all clubs is an absolute scandal.

"United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.

"I can't concentrate on the game. They should deduct six points from all the teams who have signed up to it. To do it during a season, it's a joke."

It was a sentiment echoed by Neville's former team-mate and fellow Sky Sports pundit Keane, who added: "I think it comes down to money, greed, we've heard nothing from FIFA yet but it doesn't sound good.

"Let's hope its stopped in its tracks, because I think it is just pure greed.

"We're talking about the big clubs. Bayern Munich are one of the biggest clubs in the world. At least they've made a stand, which is a good start."

United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea would need the permission of the Premier League to join any proposed Super League, or would have to break away from England's top flight altogether. 

Edinson Cavani staying for a second season at Manchester United would benefit not just the team on the pitch but also the development of the club's young forwards, according to Gary Neville.

Cavani scored his seventh league goal of the campaign on Sunday, heading in a cross from Mason Greenwood to put United 2-1 ahead against Tottenham.

Substitute Greenwood added a third in stoppage time to wrap up the victory, with Neville believing the young England international's development - along with that of club and country colleague Marcus Rashford – can only be helped by working regularly with Cavani.

The Uruguayan signed as a free agent and while United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains hopeful the player will remain at the club, speculation has suggested the striker wants to return to South America.

"Tottenham had a throw with two minutes to go, and Cavani was moving between the centre-backs trying to stop the ball from being thrown in, and he's organising where Mason Greenwood should be," Neville explained on his podcast for Sky Sports. "I thought, 'Greenwood needs another year of Cavani being alongside him.'

"It inspired us as young players when you saw great players like Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce and Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes.

"You see the best players in the world, or those who have been the best in the world like Cavani, doing his work like that in the 94th minute, someone like Greenwood, who needs people who are mentors, good standards above him, who can coach him on the pitch, I just thought him and Marcus Rashford need another year of Cavani.

"He's been a really brilliant example. I was a little bit nervous of him coming in, because of [Radamel] Falcao, Alexis Sanchez, showcase signings. This one has been different. He's really applied himself brilliantly and has been a big help to Manchester United.

"He does the right things. The right movements. It's clockwork, that run across the defender, across the near post, the one you're always trying to get young strikers to do."

Cavani has scored eight times in all competitions since his arrival at Old Trafford, averaging out at a goal every 195.5 minutes – only Bruno Fernandes and Rashford have managed more.

However, the former Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain player has a better shot conversion rate (20.5 per cent) than both that pair, demonstrating his value to the side.

Solskjaer made clear after the away triumph at Spurs that he remains hopeful the 34-year-old will be part of his squad for the 2021-22 season.

"He knows my feelings; I know his feelings. He's not made up his mind yet," the United boss told the media.

"I understand that it's been a difficult year for everyone, but for a new lad who doesn't speak English, not to feel the English culture, to go see people, have friends around... it's in the back of your head if this is what you want, you know you can't have your family over.

"Fingers crossed, but if he decides that it's just this season, then we've been very, very fortunate to have him here."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to win a trophy this season to demonstrate how Manchester United have made real progress, according to Gary Neville. 

United further enhanced their chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over fifth-placed West Ham on Sunday, courtesy of an own goal from Craig Dawson in the second half. 

The victory, following on from their derby triumph over runaway leaders Manchester City a week earlier, sees Solskjaer's squad sit second in the table. 

However, former Red Devils defender Neville feels finishing as the closest team to Pep Guardiola's title winners is not enough, citing the importance of securing silverware ahead of a potentially pivotal transfer window. 

United have an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City coming up, though before then they face Milan in the second leg of a delicately balanced Europa League tie, the teams having drawn 1-1 at Old Trafford last Thursday following a dramatic late equaliser from the Italian side. 

"The FA Cup has become critical to this football club this season. The League Cup and FA Cup has been the starting point for Manchester United teams over the last 15 to 20 years," Neville said on his podcast for Sky Sports. 

"If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to be successful at this club, he not only needs to finish second in the Premier League, but he has to win a trophy. That would be seen as real progress. Then you're attracting players next season to try and catch Manchester City. 

"I think it's a brilliant week. Beating Manchester City the way they did, and winning on Sunday.

"If you'd have said to Solskjaer at the start of the week you'll beat Manchester City, beat West Ham and draw 1-1 with Milan, he'd have snapped your hand off. Going into that Manchester derby, they were under real pressure."

As for the fight to finish in the top four in the league, Neville feels the current situation – with Leicester and Chelsea sitting behind the two Manchester clubs – will be the same at the end of the campaign. 

West Ham only sit three points behind Chelsea with a game in hand over their London rivals, while those below them – Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – have failed to show signs they can put a run of results together to mount a genuine challenge. 

"Leicester are the one team you'd be most nervous about, because they did blow up last season. But I think there's just enough this year," the ex-England international said. 

"I don't see West Ham catching Leicester, and the teams below them are so inconsistent and seem to be all over the place. I'm not sure which one of them is going to put a run together.” 

Gary Neville is ready to accept the "fun" of watching Liverpool struggle appears to be over, though the former Manchester United defender always expected Jurgen Klopp's side to rediscover their form. 

The reigning champions endured a five-match winless Premier League run to slip off the pace, a dip that allowed rivals United to briefly go top of the table. 

However, while the Red Devils have managed to take just a solitary point from their previous two outings – including suffering a shock home loss to bottom club Sheffield United – Liverpool have reeled off successive wins in London. 

The Reds still sit four points behind in-form leaders Manchester City – who also have a game in hand – but Neville is not surprised to see Klopp right the ship and get Liverpool back on course, even if it does mean an end to his "two or three-week party" during their recent slump.

"I don't think any of us ever thought Liverpool were out of the title race in the last few weeks," Neville said during his podcast for Sky Sports. 

"I may have had a bit of fun, let's be clear, watching them drop points in those midweek games and seeing United go top of the league. It's been a two or three-week party but that's what I felt it was. 

"I felt it was just a two or three-week party. I thought it would come to an end at some point and that Liverpool would resume their form. 

"I don't think United necessarily had to fall away but I thought Liverpool would come back and that they would get over this blip. They have got too good a coach and they have got too good a squad." 

Liverpool won 3-1 at West Ham on Sunday less than 72 hours after triumphing by the same scoreline against Tottenham in the capital. Jordan Henderson played both games at centre-back due to injuries, albeit the Reds may be set to add to their defensive options before the transfer window closes. 

Neville has been impressed at how, despite the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Klopp has not seen the need to adjust the way his team plays to accommodate those coming into the starting XI. 

The Reds host Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday before leaders City visit Anfield at the weekend, a huge clash for both clubs and their respective hopes in the title race.

"Well done to Liverpool because whereby they have got different personnel in those positions, their structure is still the same," Neville said.

"They are still pushing up the pitch, they are still playing that high line, pressing the game, they are still compact from back to front and they are still sustaining attacks. 

"They are doing the same things even though they have different personnel, and that's credit to the players, credit to the coach and I have to say, they have been decimated with injuries to some of their best players. 

"They have had big problems and yet they are overcoming it. If they can beat Brighton in midweek, which, no disrespect to Brighton, they should do at home, then we have got a real cracker next Sunday against Manchester City."

Manchester United players can sense they have a chance to make this a special season, says Gary Neville.

Paul Pogba scored a volley with 19 minutes remaining on Tuesday to give United a 1-0 away victory over Burnley.

That moved them top of the Premier League, three points clear of champions Liverpool ahead of the two teams' crunch clash at Anfield on Sunday.

Former United captain Neville believes Liverpool are in for an uncomfortable few days and urged fans of the Red Devils to relish their return to the summit.

The last time United were top at this stage of the season was in 2012-13, Alex Ferguson's last season which ended in title glory.

"I believe these players feel they can have a really special season," Neville said to Sky Sports.

"It's odd, it's changing every single week, you don't know what is going to happen - there's an element of unpredictability and Manchester United could exploit that.

"It's a big win, to go top of the league before Sunday feels like a big moment. Six to eight weeks ago you wouldn't have thought Manchester United would have been anywhere near this position.

"Yet, now, they find themselves with something building, the spirit is growing as you could see with the way they celebrated with each other.

"Some performances haven't been great all the time away from home but they have won when they haven't been at their best. It's a little bit more exciting and l am going to enjoy these next three or four days!

"I don't think anyone is saying Manchester United will win the league but the fact that they are in a title fight - wow! I never would have imagined it.

"It's a strange season. Why shouldn't Manchester United fans believe? Why shouldn't this side believe? Look at the front three, that midfield four, Bruno Fernandes - they have some fantastic players.

"The other teams aren't in great form. Man City are sitting there cool and calm, nobody is really talking about them, but they are hitting very good form and that is a real danger. 

"But in the next few days it is time to have a little bit of fun. It won't be a comfortable few days for Liverpool."

Neville added: "We know full well how quickly this season has turned around: it was Chelsea four weeks ago and Man United looked dead, but it is all turning around again.

"It shouldn't stop Manchester United fans get carried away in the next few days. Why shouldn't they? It's been a really difficult few years." 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted United are ready for the challenge of facing Liverpool.

"It's a brilliant position to be in," said the United manager.

"Of course we know we're going to the champions who have had an unbelievable three-and-a-half-seasons, we know it's going to be a difficult game for us, but we are ready for it.

"We couldn't have asked for a better time to play them because we are in good shape, good form and hungry. These boys want to get better and that's the test of their character and quality.

"Of course, we enjoy being [top of the league] at any time, be that the first game or the last game, which is a big, big difference. We're looking forward to it, it's a great test of where we're at.

"We're almost halfway through the season so it's a little bit of an indication of where you're at, but no one will remember the league table on January 12."

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