Manchester United has become a “graveyard” for failed transfers and the club are heading for a “bottom-half” finish if they allow Cristiano Ronaldo to leave before the end of the summer window, says Gary Neville. The Red Devils have endured a disastrous start to the 2022-23 campaign, with Erik ten Hag’s opening two Premier League games as boss delivering humbling defeats to Brighton and Brentford.
Neville has been outspoken for some time regarding the supposed mess at Old Trafford and the former defender has now warned in a drastic prediction that another concerning step in the wrong direction could be made if the exit talk raging around a Portuguese superstar results in him heading through the exits.
Can Man Utd afford to lose Cristiano Ronaldo?
GOAL was able to confirm earlier in the summer that a five-time Ballon d’Or winner had requested a move elsewhere as he, at 37 years of age, remains eager to grace a Champions League stage and compete for major honours.
United appear unable to deliver on either front at present and Neville fears there could be further regression to come, with a man that won 20 trophies during his playing days telling Sky Sports: “There's a massive decision to make on Cristiano Ronaldo, and they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.
“Before these two results, I said that the best thing to do is to facilitate a move out of the club for Cristiano, and the club are not happy with him.
“The problem now is that if they lose him, there's nothing left for the club in the goalscoring part of the pitch.
“I genuinely think that if they don't bring players in in the next couple of weeks - or if they bring poor players in and he leaves - they could finish in the bottom half of the table.
“They're a bottom-half-of-the-table team. That's a massive statement and I might look stupid at the end of the season.
“United will ride the wave over the next few months and get through this season but they're going to have live through the rockiest times they've had since they got relegated [in 1974].”
Have Man Utd made any good signings in the last 10 years?
Neville has continued to take aim at the Glazer family and their role as owners of United during a period of serious struggle for the Red Devils, but he concedes that recruitment business has also been to blame for a painful tumble from the loftiest of perches for the 13-time Premier League champions.
He added when casting an eye over the players brought in across the last decade: “One of the problems Manchester United have had for 10 years is that they’ve flip-flopped between managers and strategies. That’s been a massive issue.
“We did a little exercise where we looked at major signings at the club over the last 10 years, removing players like third goalkeepers. We removed some of the younger players but £1.25bn has been spent.
“We think there are only two signings, at this moment in time, that have been good value and have performed at a level. Bruno Fernandes has gone off the boil a bit but, because of the numbers he’s hit over two seasons, you have to say he worked – and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic has worked.
“[Ander] Herrera, [Luke] Shaw, [Nemanja] Matic, [Juan] Mata… Ronaldo would have been a green but because of what’s happened over the last month, with him wanting to leave and the confusion, the stories that have happened, that has to make him an amber. It might be because of their performance, value, price tag or just their behaviour.
“75 per cent have not worked. 20 per cent are amber. Only four or five per cent have worked; that’s a horror show from a recruitment point of view.
“I know that there’s a big call for blaming the players and we’ve blamed the players a lot. I was excited about a lot of those signings, even last year with [Jadon] Sancho, [Raphael] Varane and Ronaldo – great signings. When [Angel] Di Maria came, we thought, ‘this will be a signing’.
“But it’s become a graveyard for football players, this football club. Players are now even considering whether they want to come to the club; you can’t get players in.”