Neville: Cristiano Ronaldo looked like a little kid against Liverpool and Manchester United must stick to the 5-3-2

Cristiano Ronaldo looked like a “little kid” against Liverpool and Spurs’s formation changed to suit him, according to Sky Sports analyst Gary Neville.

Manchester United moved from 4-3-2-1 to 5-3-2 in their tough match against Tottenham, losing 3-0 in a convincing win.

Gary Neville claims changing the formation suits Man United and Cristiano Ronaldo


Gary Neville claims changing the formation suits Man United and Cristiano RonaldoCredit: Sky Sports

The likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood all missed out as Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, with 70 years between them, stole the show.

And Neville believes Portuguese superstar Ronaldo has thrived on having a partner in attack at his side.

The Old Trafford legend said: “There is no doubt that this is not Ole’s plan. Leaving Sancho, Rashford and Greenwood on the bench is not the plan.

“That wasn’t the plan in recruiting, and that wasn’t Ollie’s plan how he thought he was going to play.

“He’s played 4-2-3-1 in the last 37 games, and that’s not his plan to go 5-3-2.

“But changing the system, it seemed to suit Cristiano Ronaldo. It took the pressure off him from a defensive point of view.

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“When I saw him up front against Liverpool last week, or against Leicester alone, he looked like a little kid.

“But today was the perfect fit for him to play in those moments. Today was a good day for him, not just for the goal, but because he looked like he played in a team he was a part of.

“In the past few weeks, he’s been exposed, asked to pressure, and he can’t do it.”

Earlier, Neville praised the team’s form – but it was crucial that it took 5-0 at home to arch-rivals Liverpool to come up with this decision to alter the flair.

He said: “I think none of the two defensive midfielders putting them together in the fourth position at the moment is not capable of that.

It’s been revealed in the past few weeks, he’s been asked to pressure, and he can’t do it.

Gary Neville on Ronaldo

“I thought Varane did a great job in strengthening the back line.

“I thought that made the midfielders more confident in pressing and getting the ball back.

“But the big difference was that Cavani and Ronaldo are close to the midfield and support four.

“They’ve been about 30 meters from the back in all matches and in the last few weeks it’s been about 45/50 meters – you can drive a bus through them.

“There’s been a massive change this week, but why did it take a really bad performance to get to this point? It shouldn’t” That should take away the quality of the player and manager they have.

“I was shocked that it took six, seven, eight weeks of really bad performance and an inept attitude to defend without the ball.

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“Why did it take the coach to be on the verge of being sacked, why did the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool need to get into defensive form?

“I don’t know why it took so long for the coaching staff to ask players or players to step up and do it, but it shouldn’t take long.

“They did something today that they haven’t done all season and it looks like he’s half a team without the ball.”

Neville says Ronaldo


Neville says Ronaldo “looked like a little kid” against Liverpool, but he benefited from having Cavani by his sidecredit: Getty
Solskjaer praises Cavani for ‘one of the best performances in training ever’ and says McTominay was ‘unplayable’ against Tottenham

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