Man Utd are bottom of the Premier League after losing their first two matches; last season's top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo's future at the club is uncertain; Gary Neville believes United could finish in the bottom half of the league should the 37-year-old leave the club
Monday 22 August 2022 14:04, UK
Gary Neville believes Manchester United could finish in the bottom half of the Premier League this season if Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the club.
United have suffered their worst start to a Premier League season in 101 years under new manager Erik ten Hag.
With an opening weekend defeat to Brighton swiftly followed by a humbling 4-0 loss away at Brentford on Saturday, United sit bottom of the table.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo's United future is in serious doubt with the 37-year-old wanting to quit Old Trafford this summer in favour of joining a Champions League club.
Neville, who played with Ronaldo at United, believes the loss of the Portugal forward could damage their chances of a respectable finish this season.
"The problem they have now is if they lose him, there's nothing left in terms of the goal-scoring part of the pitch.
''I genuinely think if they don't bring players in or if they bring poor players in and he leaves, I genuinely think they can finish in the bottom half of the table," Neville said on Monday Night Football.
"I think that is a bottom-half-of-the-table team. That is a massive statement that may look stupid at the end of the season.
"They are demoralised and shot to pieces, it is really bad in there. They have gone back to default."
Neville's fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher pinpointed David de Gea and Lisandro Martinez as early weak points in Ten Hag's new-look United.
De Gea made two mistakes against Brentford on Saturday and Carragher analysed on Monday Night Football how the Spain goalkeeper's inability to build up from the back showed how he was at fault for one of the goals in the Brighton defeat too.
The former Liverpool defender also claimed Martinez's height of 5ft 9in will be an area of exploitation for opposition teams facing United - especially if Ten Hag persists with the Argentina international in a back four.
"This is a manager who comes from Ajax and it's obvious he likes his goalkeeper to play out from the back," Carragher said on MNF. "But this goalkeeper is not good enough on the ball yet. The first problem he will look at is David de Gea, I'm sure there will have been words said.
"The other problem he's got is the signing of Lisandro Martinez. Now, we should never judge managers or players too early, but I'm convinced this can't work because the size of him playing in a back four.
"Maybe he could go left-back, maybe he could play in a back three, but in a back four, he cannot play there in the Premier League.
''The reason why they're going to have a huge problem with [Martinez] at centre-back is every single team that play Manchester United - maybe bar Man City and Liverpool, who might feel, 'we don't need to change for Man United' - should target that.
"They really should do that and I think [United] have got a huge problem. Ten Hag has got his fingerprints a little bit over this team, and I think the two or three things he's influenced are not working."