Sport Neville brands Smalling, Jones form 'a disaster' for Manchester United

12:17  12 february  2018
12:17  12 february  2018 Source:

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Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has admitted he is still waiting for the 'penny to drop' with under-pressure defensive trio Phil Jones , Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling . Jones has also struggled to find consistent form for United at times this season.

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chris smalling - cropped: Chris Smalling (L) greets Rafa Benitez © Provided by Goal Chris Smalling (L) greets Rafa Benitez

Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has slammed the form of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the wake of the shock defeat to Newcastle United.

The Red Devils suffered a 1-0 defeat at St James' Park on Sunday, leaving them 16 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, who need only six wins in the last 11 matches to secure the title.

Smalling endured a particularly poor outing and was fortunate to avoid giving away a penalty for a trip on Dwight Gayle in the first half before conceding a free-kick for diving in the second, from which Newcastle created the opening for Matt Ritchie to score.

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Phil Neville believes Manchester United still have more money to spend to return to being title contenders. United failed to sign an out-and-out centre half, however, and have struggled at the back this season as Chris Smalling , Phil Jones and Jonny Evans battle for form and fitness and youngster

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Jones had an equally torrid time in United's last away game, a 2-0 loss to Tottenham at Wembley, when he scored an own goal to compound a slack performance.

Neville says the recent form of the duo has been "a disaster" and felt their play at the weekend made the rest of the United team nervous.

"They have got the best defensive record because they have the best goalkeeper in the world in David De Gea and [Nemanja] Matic out in front who protects them really well," Neville, now England women's boss, told the BBC.

"But the last two away games, Smalling and Jones have been a disaster.

"Against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, they got bullied. Against Newcastle, did they make many mistakes? No. But they created a nervousness and a tension.

"They were making decision that were strange. They were making decisions all day where you were thinking 'what are you doing?'

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New columnist Gary Neville says Manchester United 's captain will form formidable partnership with Louis van Gaal in first article written exclusively for Telegraph Sport. But Evans, Jones and Smalling have all had injuries over the past two or three seasons.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has slammed the club's recruitment in recent years 'You've got Valencia, Jones , Smalling , Young and De Gea and you obviously have Lingard and Rashford Liverpool-bound Keita criticised over drop in form Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl moaned: 'He is not

"They bought these two as the best young centre-backs in England."

Jones admitted United did not deserve to win, despite Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial missing clear-cut chances in each half.

"We didn't show up, we started slowly and they pressed us and the crowd were on their feet," he told MUTV.

"We got control midway through the first half and should have scored. We had a few chances cleared off the line, but we weren't at the races, we weren't good enough, it's as simple as that. Ultimately we have conceded a sloppy goal and the lads are devastated in the dressing room.

"In the last 10 or 15 minutes, we had three or four balls cleared off the line. They were scrapping for their lives and that is the sort of luck they needed and they got it. But it wasn't bad luck today, we just weren't good enough and I don't think we deserved to win the game."

Which Premier League teams have the 'winning mentality?' .
Jamie Carragher and Thierry Henry took a look at Arsenal’s shambolic away record recently. The conversation led to the two pundits discussing the issue of mentality. There is no doubt that mentality has everything to do with the game. Anybody who has played football at any level understands the importance of commitment, concentration, and above all, desire. The issue of mentality is at the heart of the heated aftermath witnessed on Arsenal Fan TV after almost every game these days. However, it is not only Arsenal fans who rant about player commitment and the desire showcased by players and managers. Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid fans are particularly critical. In fact, it is a feeling that all fans will have expressed about their club at some point in time. From where does a winning mentality stem, though? Is it the manager, is it the players, or is it a combination of players and manager? The three best clubs to explore the issue are Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. These days, Manchester United seem to be a completely different club from the one managed by Sir Alex Ferguson. The old United were renowned for their last-gasp winners and never-say-die attitude. It is clear that Ferguson optimised United and players who did not share his desire were shown the exit door. Ferguson had real leaders throughout his spell at United. Not just leaders, but winners.

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