Gary Neville has offered his opinion on Manchester United’s blunt performances in Europe, stating that it is a learning process that will eventually bear fruit.
United have stumbled around the continent this season and having crashed out of the Champions League, are now struggling to find their feet in the Europa League with even more lacklustre performances.
This is a far cry from the team that made it to the Champions League final last season, their 3rd final in 4 seasons.
Speaking in the issue of United Review that went on sale before last night’s loss to Athletic Bilbao, the United hero said:
“The only way you learn European football is by playing and getting to the point where you start to absorb lessons.
“The manager knows he’s got talented young players who are going to be at United for a number of years, and I think this year has almost been a step back to go forwards in Europe.
“The younger players in our squad will take a lot out of this season.
“There is a subtlety and attention to detail you need in Europe. Inches matter and whereas the Premier League can be a little more forgiving, in Europe opponents are more ruthless and more clinical in front of goal.
“I remember it when we were young lads too. It’s just something you have to go through.
“It’s an underachievement when you get to three finals in four years, then don’t get past the group stage, but these are great experiences for the young lads.
“You get the fruits of your labour over time and these lads have huge talent.”
I understand what Neville is saying. Some of these youngsters are learning and we have to be patient. Players like Jones, Smalling, Cleverley, Hernandez, De Gea and Welbeck have not had a lot of European experience before. I still feel there are problems we need to solve, but these youngsters are the future. Jones started the season so strongly, but he’s only 20 and naturally his form has dipped slightly.
I find Rafeal laziness for the third goal slightly unforgivable though because he has been with us for 3-4 years now. De Gea did fantastic but I cannot understand what Rafeal was thinking. The right back is a weak area and his brother Fabio doesn’t look any better to be honest. Evra is one of the older heads, but defensively he has not been strong for a while. He gets beaten and caught out of position far too often In terms of attacking Evra is very good.
Jonny Evans has got better this season and his recent performance against Liverpool and Tottenham was excellent. He is benefiting from a good run in the team. I hope he continues to grow and gets even better over the next 12 months. He seems slightly stronger and more confident on the ball. He needs more experience though as well, because he has deputised