Phil Neville says he has noticed a culture shift at Manchester United following the arrival of new signings but acknowledges it is “early days” in terms of predicting a successful season.
All three of United’s summer signings impressed on their debuts against Chelsea on Sunday as the Red Devils thrashed Frank Lampard’s side 4-0 at Old Trafford.
Man Utd’s much-needed good start: Five key things to know…
- United spent more than any Premier League club in the summer, bringing in Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.
- Maguire and Wan-Bissaka were solid defensively against Chelsea, while James came off the bench to score on his debut.
- Solskjaer’s side finished last season by losing five of their final nine league games, winning just two.
- But goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial before James’ strike helped them thump Chelsea on the opening weekend.
- United travel to Wolves next, where they lost in the Premier League and the FA Cup last term.
After a dreadful end to last season, United appeared determined to start the new campaign in style, managing to score four goals while remaining solid at the back.
And Neville, who made 386 appearances for United, has suggested the club’s new signings have brought on a culture shift at Old Trafford.
“It is early days, I’ve got to say. It was a fantastic game of football,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“In pre-season I think I’ve seen a real together, unified team. I’ve seen a team that’s playing a certain way, a certain system. There’s been a shift in culture in terms of the players that have been brought in.
“The best moment on Sunday was when James scored that goal and the emotion in his face about what it meant to him.
“Playing for Manchester United should mean something to you, and I think the signings Ole has made, and the likes of [Mason] Greenwood, [Angel] Gomes and [Tahith] Chong coming into the squad, means the bare minimum we’re going to see is a Manchester United team that fight – they’re going to fight right until the end.”
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McTominay succeeding “through sheer hard work” – Neville
United’s longer-serving players also impressed against Chelsea, including Scott McTominay, who appeared to take on a leadership role in central midfield.
Asked about McTominay’s credentials to stay in the United team, Neville pointed to the 22-year-old’s dedication and work rate.
“He’s an impressive young man,” said the England Women’s manager. “If you’re talking about a lad that comes through the system, there are probably more skilful players, more players with probably better reputations than Scott McTominay.
“But if you’re talking about players with character and resilience, that lad’s gone through it all to get to what he wants to do, and that’s through sheer hard work and dedication, and training and doing extra.
“It’s no coincidence that Jose Mourinho picked him in the biggest games, and Ole’s doing the same now. There’s nothing better – a level-headed young lad that’s working his absolute socks off.
“The fundamental basis of any successful person is hard work and Scott McTominay’s doing that in abundance.”