HARRY MAGUIRE and Victor Lindelof are holding Manchester United back because they cannot form a partnership, Gary Neville has claimed.
The Red Devils legend highlighted the centre-backs, alongside goalkeeper David de Gea, as the big issue in his old team’s title bid.
Doubts have been raised over Harry Maguire and Victor LindelofCredit: PA:Press Association
A run of one win in five in the league has left United seven points off leaders Manchester City, who even have a game in hand.
And although they are the top scorers, the side boasts a defence that only ranks 12th in the Premier League for goals conceded.
Neville believes the problem is Lindelof and Maguire’s incompatibility.
The 45-year-old told Monday Night Football: “Lindelof’s problem is Maguire, Maguire’s problem is Lindelof.
“I think [Lindelof] is a really good player by the way, I think he understands the game, I think he reads the game, I think he’s a good defender.
“I think if he was alongside a Rio Ferdinand or a [Virgil] van Dijk I think he’d make a great pair.
“The problem is he’s alongside somebody who isn’t the most mobile in Harry Maguire.
“And that’s the problem Lindelof’s got, that they’ve invested £80million in Harry Maguire, so they’re going to need to put someone alongside him.
“If Liverpool were looking for a centre-back pairing, I think he’d do a really good job alongside Van Dijk – but not alongside Maguire.
“They both just drop back a little bit and you need somebody to get up the pitch – more front foot, more aggressive, and step past the striker.
“You’ve got to have the nerve to make the stomach churn a little bit when there’s a bit too much space in behind than there ordinarily would be, and that’s what the best teams have.”
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher agreed that Lindelof was too easy to ‘bully’ for opposition forwards.
The Swede lost the physical battle with Mbaye Diagne as West Brom took an early lead in Sunday’s 1-1 draw.
Neville described how United’s record of 31 goals let in over 24 games so far was miles behind the necessary level required to win the league.
He added: “The key thing is that only one of the last 20 Premier League champions have conceded one goal per game or more.
“If you think of all the teams that have won the league, that triangle of the goalkeeper and two centre-backs, they are solid as a rock and are dominant.
“And these three are not dominant. They concede too many goals, so Manchester United have to look at that.”
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
Gary Neville detailed the importance of a strong defence with Rio Ferdinand (left) a prime exampleCredit: Reuters