'Man Utd were bad under Ferguson as well' - Mourinho's methods defended by Neville

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The Red Devils have faced criticism for their brand of football this season, but a former defender says memories of the past have become clouded

Manchester United’s much-maligned brand of football has been defended by Gary Neville, with an eight-time Premier League title winner saying the club were not always great under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Anyone at the Old Trafford helm will inevitably be compared to an iconic manager of the past, with the legendary Scot considered to have established an era of domination on the back of an attacking mindset.

Mourinho has been accused of making United overly defensive, with the club deserting the philosophies which made them so successful and entertaining to watch.

Neville, though, believes that memories of the past have become clouded, with United having struggled at times under Ferguson.

He told the Daily Mail when assessing a side which finished the 2017-18 Premier League season in second place and has an FA Cup final to come on Saturday: “Under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho it’s been suggested the football is not very good.

“And every game that goes by Sir Alex Ferguson’s football gets better and better because you forget the bad games, the 1-0s, the horrible defeats. 

“I think we’ve become a bit idealistic about what the football was at times under Sir Alex. I was there for a large part of it, 21 years, and saw every game.

“Yes, it was mesmerising at times, but from 2003 to 2006 it wasn’t good. I played in that team, it wasn’t good. We weren’t playing at a high level. We were pretty average.

“So you think about this three-year period or so now and what are you measuring against? Sir Alex’s 1999 or the 2003-2006 period when the football was pretty poor and Jose Mourinho was at Chelsea and destroying us?”

Mourinho delivered three trophies in his debut campaign and remains in the hunt for another this term as he prepares to face former employers Chelsea at Wembley.

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He will also be looking to force United back into title contention next season, with Neville claiming that capturing that crown would make the Portuguese more successful that Pep Guardiola – who has just guided Manchester City to a record-breaking triumph during his second season in England.

“These two managers have been at Real Madrid and Barcelona and both won leagues there,” added Neville.

“Ultimately at the end of next season if Pep wins another league that will be a big problem over a three year period but if Jose was to win the league next year you could actually argue Jose has done the better job. Next season will be critical.”