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Gary Neville: Respite for Manchester United while Sir Jim Ratcliffe won't let £245m investment go down drain

Pressure was growing on boss Erik ten Hag after Man Utd's worst start to the season since 1962-63 but Bruno Fernandes' goal at Fulham gave the former Ajax manager brief respite; Gary Neville: "They have been under attack, and rightly so, but it is a massive struggle"

Gary Neville says Man Utd's win was unconvincing
Image: Gary Neville says Man Utd's win was unconvincing

Gary Neville admits it is still a "massive struggle" for Manchester United despite Bruno Fernandes providing welcome "respite" to the growing crisis after his stoppage-time winner at Fulham.

The skipper found the bottom corner from the edge of the area after the Cottagers failed to clear to secure a crucial 1-0 win.

Pressure was growing on boss Erik ten Hag after United's worst start to the season since 1962-63 but Fernandes' goal gave the former Ajax manager brief respite before Wednesday's Champions League trip to Copenhagen.

Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast, the former United defender told Sky Sports: "I think they will just be really happy that they have given themselves some respite for the next three days.

"They have been under attack, and rightly so, the performances have been woeful and every time they play as a team that is down there in the bottom half of the table they can, with moments, like Bruno Fernandes' goal, win games but it is a massive struggle.

"I think they will feel a lot better about themselves heading into the Copenhagen and Luton games, which are the most friendly fixtures you are going to get going into an international break and if they can win those two games they will go into the international break with a lot more confidence."

Ratcliffe won't let £245m investment go down drain

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Gary Neville discusses the problems Manchester United currently face and joked the club need something magical to turn things around

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is to commit $300m (£245m) from his multibillion pound fortune to Manchester United's ageing infrastructure as part of a deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake that will be unveiled this month.

Sky News exclusively revealed Ratcliffe, founder of the Ineos petrochemicals empire, will pledge the investment alongside the acquisition of a shareholding likely to be worth more than £1.25bn.

Sources said on Friday the £245m investment would be staggered, with the bulk of it being handed to the club by the end of the year.

Reflecting on the news, Neville said: "What we need to hear is the full proposal and how it is going to work.

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Toto Wolff responds to the rumours surrounding his interest in joining Jim Ratcliffe's Manchester United bid

"You don't sit here as a Manchester United fan, wholly impressed by the idea of £245m going in to improve the stadium because we know that Real Madrid and Barcelona are spending a billion to get their stadiums right with a full refit, and we know that other clubs have spent significantly more.

"So, we know that is not actually going to touch the sides properly of a full refurb of Old Trafford but what it is, is a significant amount of money - and Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a smart and successful businessman.

"He's not going to put £245m into something and let it go down the drain, so I suspect it is probably the first instalment of some sort of plan that means that they will phase the refurbishment of the stadium over two or three different seasons. It sounds to me like they will do it in phases."

'Man Utd looks like a business that is failing'

What would Gary Neville change if he could buy Man Utd?
Image: What would Gary Neville change if he could buy Man Utd?

Ratcliffe's purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the Red Devils - first revealed by Sky News last month - will come almost exactly a year after the Glazer family, which has controlled the club since 2005, began formally exploring a sale.

Adding together the cost of the stock purchase and the other capital for investment means that Ratcliffe will be committing about £1.5bn on day one of his United interest, although that figure could vary depending on the price he ultimately pays for the shares.

After months of negotiations with several potential buyers, including the Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, the British billionaire's acquisition of a minority stake has emerged as the Glazers' preferred option.

United have spent more than £2bn in the 21st century on player signings with £183.5m spent in the last summer transfer window. New striker Rasmus Hojlund cost £72m from Atalanta while Mason Mount arrived from Chelsea for £60m but both are still adapting to life at Old Trafford.

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Kaveh Solhekol questions whether the Glazer family ever wanted to sell Manchester United with Sir Jim Ratcliffe close to agreeing a deal for 25 per cent of the club

The club's Carrington training ground is a top-level ground - the AON Training Complex - is located less than 10 miles from the stadium and was constructed with a budget of £22m, with tens of millions more spent further down the line.

Neville, however, feels United as a business are failing.

He said: "If he puts some money in then it at least might deal with some of the issues that exist within the stadium. You don't go into successful clothes shops, or hairdressers or petrol stations or banks with leaking roofs. A leaking roof is really clear evidence that a business is not being invested in, a business is not being looked after and to be fair a business that is failing.

"Whichever way you look at it. When I go into a supermarket I don't see the roof leaking, but Manchester United Football Club, one of the biggest football clubs in the world has a leaking roof, and it becomes funny, it becomes a joke.

Man Utd escaped Fulham with a narrow win
Image: Man Utd escaped Fulham with a narrow late win

"But it is actually the clearest evidence that you can point towards other than the lack of success on the pitch that tells you that this is a failing administration and a failing leadership. It is.

"Just take it into your own life and think about when you walk into a bar or a restaurant you would say 'I'm not going there again'. It's a fact.

"I know we joke about it, but it's a really serious thing. I take great pride in that stadium, that stadium has been my life.

"When I look over it and I see the paint has been rusted, or it has not been painted or the roof is leaking and that the concourses are so tired and that the hospitality is way behind everywhere else, and that the fan experience outside is probably the worst in the league - I genuinely, honestly wince inside."

'Ratcliffe needs to take charge'

Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Neville believes the key to the fresh investment helping restore Manchester United to their former glory might depend on how much control Ratcliffe has over managing the club's day-to-day affairs.

"They [the Glazer family] desperately need investment," Neville says.

"I mean they are maxed out. They owe £300m to other football clubs, which is the most of any club in the Premier League. It is the most Manchester United have ever owed to other football clubs.

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Sky Sports commentator Peter Drury asks Gary Neville on his podcast what he would change if he was rich enough to buy 100 per cent of Manchester United

"They have £800m worth of debt, they really are struggling, they are maxed out. It's a precarious position, and they need some investment in and obviously want to take some money out themselves.

"I hope Sir Jim Ratcliffe can gain as much power as he can in the running of the club, so that we can see significant change. And if £245m is the start of the investment into the stadium and the training ground, I think the fans will probably go with that.

"One of the best clubs in the world should have one of the best stadiums in the world."

'Ratcliffe can't fix things in a day'

"There is a lot to do at Manchester United and Sir Jim Ratcliffe with his 25 per cent stake is not going to be able to fix everything on day one that is quite clear, but what I would hope is that he is able to communicate a clear plan.

"We must be clear that the football side of things is the most important thing, first-team performance, that needs to be dealt with first and will make everybody feel better about themselves.

"Then the facilities do need to be fixed so that everybody can feel a sense of pride again, so we don't go from being one of the best stadiums in the world, selected for Champions League finals and the final stages of major tournaments to not being selected for a major tournament. That is where we are at, at this moment in time."

Asked whether Ratcliffe could potentially just take over just the football side, with that running separate to the commercial side, Neville said: "He shouldn't do that and he won't do that. He will have to impact the culture of the whole club, and the feeling in the whole club, he will have to touch every point in the club.

He needs to make them [the Glazer family] passive in terms of their control. I would take as much off them as possible.
Gary Neville on Sir Jim Ratcliffe

"To be fair, if he goes into the football club he is the most experienced and most knowledgeable and most successful business person that there will be in the boardroom. He needs to make them [the Glazer family] passive in terms of their control. I would take as much off them as possible.

"The commercial side of the club would be as successful with Sir Jim Ratcliffe as it would be under the Glazer family. They have been quite successful on the commercial side, but Sir Jim Ratcliffe is successful as well.

"But he will need to make sure that every single person feels good about going in to work every day. That's really important, it's the most important thing. People are everything in your business and he will know that because he is one of the most successful businessmen in the world.

"I'm hoping he is negotiating to take as much power and control as he possibly can and fixing as many things as he possibly can so that the Glazers can't wriggle on him when he gets through the door."

'Rashford partying doesn't look great'

Marcus Rashford rues a missed chance against Spurs
Image: Marcus Rashford rues a missed chance against Spurs

Ten Hag called Marcus Rashford's trip to a nightclub after their Manchester derby defeat "unacceptable" but says the striker has apologised.

Rashford was not included in United's squad for the game at Fulham game after taking a "heavy knock" in training.

Neville said: "I've said this in my book. I've said it openly and publicly, if we lost a match, any match, forget about the Manchester derby where we wouldn't be seen for a week or two weeks, but if we lost a match, nights out were cancelled. Simple as that. That was my rule and the rule for the other lads in the dressing room.

"You couldn't be seen out in a public place if you lost a football match because to be fair, you would be bumping into people who had paid big money to watch the team play and they don't really want to see you enjoying yourselves and celebrating - it's an optics thing.

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Gary Neville believes it was a 'mistake' for Marcus Rashford to go out and celebrate his birthday after their 3-0 defeat in the Manchester derby

"Optically I don't think it looks great if you are seen in a nightclub in Manchester after a derby loss, I don't think it is right. Erik ten Hag said it was a mistake, I would class it as a mistake as well.

"Marcus is from Manchester, I know it was his birthday, and you've got to live, but it was a Manchester derby and you have just been beaten 3-0 and the reality of it is the fans don't want to hear that you were out on the town.

"Also, Manchester United had a game against Newcastle in the Carabao Cup three days later, so again, is that the best preparation? Probably not. I don't think it was the wisest decision. Has he done something ridiculously wrong? No, but it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do."

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