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talking point Gary Neville on Manchester United's title bid as Europa League tie is set to be switched

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made progress at Manchester United this season (Andy Rain/PA)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made progress at Manchester United this season (Andy Rain/PA)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made progress at Manchester United this season (Andy Rain/PA)

Manchester United will not win this season's Premier League title, but they need to be firmly in the mix for the biggest prize in English football next season.

That's the verdict of former United defender Gary Neville, who has insisted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side do not have what it takes to halt Manchester City's march to the title this season.

With defending champions Liverpool appearing to be out of the race to defend their title, United appear to be the only realistic challengers to runaway leader City, but United legend Neville does not believe they can win the league this season.

"They're not there yet, I know it's disappointing, but it isn't surprising. I think they're on the right track," he said on the Gary Neville podcast.

"It has been clear in the last few weeks, drawing against Arsenal drawing against Liverpool losing against Sheffield United, drawing against Everton, that is not going to win you the title. And for me, I don't expect Manchester United to win the title this year.

"What I would expect is them to get closer to Liverpool and City, and that is what I do expect, and then expect them next year to challenge.

" The goalkeeper situation a needs monitoring, no doubt, right-winger will be interesting and centre-forward, depending on how (Mason) Greenwood settles it in this last few months of this season.

"There is no doubt they are closer to the title challengers this season and that is what would have been expected of Ole. Now he has to pus that on and try and win it next season."

United dropped two points as they conceded a last-minute equaliser to draw 3-3 with Everton on Saturday, with Neville suggesting that result summed up where they are right now.

"I thought the performance was really good. I think that the question marks then, over the centre-backs, over the goalkeeper, will start to come," he added.

"It tells us where Manchester United are at. We knew a few weeks ago, they're just not quite there in terms of winning the title. I never thought they were, I never thought that because the performances weren't good enough. And there just was something missing.

"Actually on Saturday, I thought the performance was good, but then still something's just not quite right. I didn't expect them to win the league at the start of the season. I know that people will say 'he'll say they didn't show the belief'; I never expected them to have the belief."

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Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky Sports

Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky Sports

Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky Sports

Neville's balanced judgement when assessing United's title credentials can be contrasted by the words of former United skipper Roy Keane, who suggested the lack of belief in Solskjaer's dressing room was one of the reasons why they are not challengers.

"Listening to Ole and the last few performances and the goalkeeper, they probably don’t have the belief they can challenge Man City," said Keane, with Solskjaer appearing to laugh at the thought that his side were title challengers after the Everton game on Saturday.

"If you don’t have the belief you can do it, then there’s a good chance you won’t do it. But they’re capable of scoring lots of goals.

"Obviously when Ole came out with what he said (after the Everton game) that he didn’t feel they are ready to win the league, I don't agree with it.

"I just think if you’re playing for Man United and you’re up near the top you’ve got to believe you can win the league title. Or what’s the point of being at Man United? You might as well go to a mid-table team, you’re at Man United to win titles, it’s as simple as that. I don’t tolerate this idea."

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Paul Pogba will miss United's FA Cup fifth-round clash with West Ham and the next few weeks.

The 27-year-old was forced off towards the end of the first half of Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Everton with a thigh injury that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed will see him miss "a few weeks definitely".

Finally, United's Europa League clash with Real Sociedad later this month looks set to be played in Juventus' stadium in Turin, with the Spanish government not allowing flights from England in their country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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