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Gary Neville podcast: Manchester United must win a trophy this year to mark progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

"If Solskjaer is going to be successful at this club, he not only needs to finish second, but he has to win a trophy." Solskjaer's side have the second leg of their Europa League last 16 at AC Milan on Thursday and the FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester on Sunday

Gary Neville thinks Manchester United are better-placed to win the Premier League than they were under Jose Mourinho
Image: Gary Neville thinks Manchester United need to win a trophy this season, as well as finishing second, to mark progress

Manchester United must win a trophy this season to mark progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, insists Gary Neville on his latest podcast.

Solskjaer's side have a big week coming up, with the second leg of their Europa League last 16 at AC Milan on Thursday sitting at 1-1 from the first leg, and an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester on Sunday.

United have been knocked out of four semi-finals under Solskjaer, and haven't won a trophy since 2017 under Jose Mourinho, and though they now sit comfortably in the top four, Neville said on his latest podcast the club need a piece of silverware to show how they have advanced under Norwegian Solskjaer.

'United need a trophy this year'

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Manchester United's 1-0 win over West Ham on Sunday
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Manchester United's 1-0 win over West Ham on Sunday

"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.

"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 AC Milan, he'd have snapped your hand off. Because going into that Manchester derby, they were under real pressure.

"If they'd lost to City, there's a real pressure building on this West Ham game. I think they are now a lot more comfortable going into the final weeks. This was a big, big week."

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Is the top four fixed now?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester’s win over Sheffield United in the Premier League

With nine games remaining, Neville believes the current top four - Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea - will remain fixed until the end of the season.

"I think it is [fixed]. 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.

"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.

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Solskjaer feels Man Utd had enough opportunities to win by more goals against West Ham

"They're capable of it, some of them, but I would think this Leicester team would hang on, and would cement the fact Brendan Rodgers has done a brilliant job two years on the bounce.

"Last year, they were so unlucky to miss out on the last day to Manchester United, whereas this year I think they'll make top four, with Chelsea third and Leicester fourth."

'Internal appointments show clear direction'

John Murtough and Darren Fletcher
Image: John Murtough (left) and Darren Fletcher (right) have new roles at the club

Manchester United last week appointed John Murtough in the new role of football director, while former midfielder Darren Fletcher has been promoted to technical director.

Neville believes that while the appointments show an internal comfort and clear direction for the club, they won't necessarily be the difference between winning a title and not.

"I think the appointments of John Murtough and Darren Fletcher are internal appointments. John Murtough has been at the club for eight seasons, Darren Fletcher has known the club for a long time.

"It's quite clear the direction of the club is to go down the path of people who know the DNA and understand the DNA of the club. Nicky Butt is at the club, Michael Carrick, Mike Phelan, Darren Fletcher, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. There are a group of people who lived through the Sir Alex Ferguson era and know what it means. It's quite clear now that Ed Woodward and the board have chosen to go down this route.

"In terms of John Murtough being appointed football director, I don't see that as being a critical appointment in the sense of Manchester United winning or not winning the title over the next three or four years. When you look at the job description, I don't think he has the veto to sack the manager, appoint a manager or sign a player or get rid of a player. I think that will come down to the same people as before.

"I don't see the appointments this week as being massively influential in terms of winning the Premier League or the Champions League.

"But I think there is a comfort internally now with regards to the personnel currently there. They are working well, and I do think there has been progression since Jose Mourinho left.

"I think the performance levels are better, the football is better, the feeling in the club is better and the connection with the fans. But there is still a big step up to get to the level of Manchester City, and that's the big jump that John Murtough, Solskjaer, Fletcher and the rest of the staff have to make in the next 12 to 18 months, and they'll be judged on the pitch ultimately."

'West Ham disappointed me'

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United's win over West Ham in the Premier League

Speaking after Manchester United's 1-0 win over West Ham on Super Sunday, Neville was disappointed by the way David Moyes approached the game and says they should have taken the contest to the hosts.

"I was disappointed in the first hour of the game. I've seen West Ham so many times this season - Manchester United don't necessarily change, they struggle against teams that sit back and don't ordinarily break them down as easily as they should do, and they're going to have to sort that out if they're going to get to where Manchester City are, because City can break down these teams, and dismantle them.

"Manchester United just aren't quite at that level yet where they can do it week in, week out. That's why they've had problems against Palace, even West Ham today, Sheffield United, teams that are in the lower half of the league but are resilient.

"But West Ham disappointed me. I've watched West Ham many times this season, they're in such a great position. In previous years you could understand West Ham being a bit nervous, anxious, and fearful coming here. But why on Sunday? If you pick that team with five at the back, Mark Noble in midfield, you're telling your players: 'I don't really believe you can go there and take them on.'

West Ham's Craig Dawson (obscured) heads into his own net to give Manchester United a 1-0 lead at Old Trafford
Image: West Ham's Craig Dawson (obscured) heads into his own net to give Manchester United a 1-0 win

"I think they can take this Manchester United team on. Maybe having five at the back, two in midfield with Soucek and Rice, but maybe a Lanzini or Benrahma instead of Noble would have just been the right balance, enabling them to maybe get something in the first half. But Manchester United centre-backs had 45-60 minutes off.

"West Ham are not going to finish in the top four now. That was probably the last chance - they have two or three tough fixtures coming up. Brilliant season, and I've loved watching West Ham. Those players - Lingard, Fornals, Benrahma, Bowen, Lanzini, behind Antonio - they are a real good team. I think they've got really talented players. And in Soucek and Rice they have two good midfield players. Fabianski is a good goalkeeper.

"I think a lot of their players would be sought-after from other teams in the top half, and that's why they are where they are. But coming to Old Trafford on Sunday, with Manchester United's home record not being perfect, I just saw the West Ham team and knew what I was going to see. It was going to be dour, methodical, and Antonio would get isolated.

"I found myself in the first 45 minutes a little bit disappointed by what I was seeing. There's no need for that. In the last part of the game they had two or three really good moments and looked like they could play. But they waited too long in the game, and Manchester United could see it out."

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