Gary Neville Slams Manchester United Defence, Paul Pogba After Barcelona Loss

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 16: A dejected Paul Pogba of Manchester United at full time during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester United at Camp Nou on April 16, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville criticised the team following the loss to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, focusing on their poor defensive display and the performance of Paul Pogba

After losing the first leg of their quarter-final tie 1-0 at Old Trafford, Barcelona brushed the Red Devils aside at the Camp Nou. Two goals from Lionel Messi in the first half gave United a mountain to climb, before Philippe Coutinho made it 3-0 after the break.

Speaking to beIN Sports (h/t Goal) following the loss, Neville said the Red Devils require a total defensive overhaul.

"The coaching staff will see there's a massive gulf between Europe's best teams and where Manchester United are at," he said. "Manchester United need to revamp their squad—there is no doubt about that. [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer] needs a new defence in its entirety I would say."

On the night, Messi was too good for the United players, although the team's defensive play left a lot to be desired (U.S. only):

After the match, the manager said the club have a lot of work to do if they are to reach the summit of the game again:

When he arrived at the Red Devils in 2016, many anticipated Pogba would be the man the team was built around. 

After enjoying a brilliant run of form when Solskjaer was initially appointed manager, the France international has struggled again in recent weeks. Neville said he was well below his best in the loss in Catalonia.

"Pogba is now playing how he was pre-Ole's arrival," he noted. "I thought tonight he was really poor, rolling his foot over the ball all the time, playing for himself, not popping up and moving, [he] didn't look interested at times. But he's a great player, and he can be a great player. He just has to get his focus back."

Spanish football journalist Andy West commented on what was a challenging night for the Frenchman:

There's no doubt United have bigger issues to resolve than Pogba this summer, though, with the defence having long been in need of some refurbishment.

Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young were at a loss as to how to contain their opponents and made rash decisions throughout the contest. 

The United Religion Twitter account summed up how little progress United have made in defence:

Mark Ogden of ESPN FC was critical of the type of recruitment the Red Devils have done in the past:

The magnitude of the job facing Solskjaer has been highlighted recently, with United now having lost five of their previous seven games. After their elimination from the Champions League, their focus will now shift to the Premier League, where they will be seeking to secure a top-four finish.

However, with a trip to Everton on Sunday followed by matches with Manchester City and Chelsea, things are unlikely to get easier for Solskjaer in the short term. He needs time and support to sort this team out in the long term.

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