Neville: “I think Mourinho being in the league is a big positive”

Neville: “I think Mourinho being in the league is a big positive”

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Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has said that Jose Mourinho’s success last season is a good thing for the Premier League.

Neville, who is now a TV pundit, has said that Mourinho’s runaway success in the last campaign has forced other managers to think more defensively ahead of the new season:

“I think Jose Mourinho is starting to bring it back, to a level. My hope was he was going to go away and blitz the Premier League by 25 points, and then everyone else thinks: ‘Right, I’ve got to go away and get up to that standard.’ That’s what could happen in this next couple of years.

“I think him being in the league is a big positive, I genuinely do. I think Louis van Gaal being in the league is a big positive, because they’ll push each other.”

Neville, who spent his whole career at Old Trafford, has also said that British teams trying to copy Barcelona, who won last season’s Champions League, isn’t a realistic prospect:

“The biggest trend in the Premier League is a lot of clubs copying Barcelona by the way they split their centre-backs to what I would call a ludicrous degree – five yards off the touchline,” Neville told Sport magazine.

“I’m watching players who haven’t got the ability to pass it five yards dropping five yards off the touchline and thinking they can play it out from the back, with goalkeepers who aren’t capable.

“When you have [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen in goal, or [Victor] Valdes, with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets, I get it. But you do it with some of the players that I’ve watched do it in the past three or four years, and it’s an absolute nonsense. That’s my little dig…

“Managers, players, coaches, teams and fans all want more risk, and I genuinely believe that the standard of defending in the past three or four years in the Premier League has been reflected through the performances of our teams in Europe.

“This is not just an old defender who’s retired, whinging. We have a massive problem at the moment with the standard of our game – it’s a different level in some European teams than at Premier League level.

“Look, it could be cycles – we will come out of it, I’m sure. But we’re going through a really poor period.

“The reality of it is, if you don’t defend well, you’re going to find it very difficult to win the European Cup.”