Smalling & Jones branded 'a disaster' by Neville as Man Utd's weaknesses are exposed

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The Red Devils defensive duo endured another forgettable outing against Newcastle, leading a former Old Trafford star to label them as a liability

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones “have been a disaster” for Manchester United of late, says an unimpressed Phil Neville.

The Red Devils, after being considered Premier League title challengers early on in the 2017-18 campaign, have been dragged into the battle for a top-four finish.

Two defeats in their last three outings have weakened their position in second spot, with Jose Mourinho’s side having come unstuck against Tottenham and Newcastle without finding the target.

Defensive duo Smalling and Jones struggled in each of those fixtures, with Neville accusing the under-fire England internationals of becoming a liability.

The former United star told Match of the Day 2 on the back of a 1-0 reversal at St James’ Park: "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.

"But the last two away games [against Tottenham and Newcastle], Smalling and Jones have been a disaster.

"Against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, they got bullied."

Neville added: "Against Newcastle did they make many mistakes, no, but they created a nervousness and a tension.

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

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

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Jones appeared to have played his way back into form at the start of the season following a succession of injury setbacks.

He has, however, slipped back into his old ways as United’s deficiencies at the back have been exposed.

Smalling, meanwhile, has come in for plenty of criticism for his displays, with the 28-year-old having picked up a booking against Newcastle for diving inside his own half.

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