Gary Neville has told Sky Sports that Jose Mourinho’s reactive tactics in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield are comparable to those employed by Roy Hodgson when in charge of England.
The long-awaited clash of the North West titans on so-called ‘Red Monday’ failed to deliver upon its hyperbolic hype, with two sensational David De Gea saves and a wasted header from Zlatan Ibrahimovic the sole highlights of an ultimately disappointing encounter.
Mourinho’s approach has since divided opinion, with some praising him for nullifying the multi-pronged attacking threat of the Premier League’s top scorers while others have criticised him for his apparent lack of ambition.
However, former United captain Neville accepts that the former Chelsea managers’ defensive strategy was borne out of necessity, similar to the tactics Hodgson employed when guiding England to a precious point away to Ukraine in qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
“Thinking with my coaching head on and going back to my time with England and going to Ukraine when Roy Hodgson was the manager, we got a nil-nil and in the end it helped us qualify for the tournament and get us where we wanted to be,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“And tonight, if you are United, it was a dangerous game. They have had some difficult results recently and if they had come here and lost, then they have Fenerbahce on Thursday, Chelsea on Sunday, the Manchester derby next week - a big run of games and they could not afford to lose tonight.
“So in that sense you could argue job done.”
The point keeps United within three points of Liverpool and five behind leaders Manchester City. A defeat, however, would surely have ramped up the pressure on Mourinho with the press apparently waiting for any opportunity to proclaim the end of the ‘Special One’s’ era.