Alex Neil is not buying reports of Manchester United’s demise ahead of Norwich City’s visit

Fit-again Wayne Rooney is poised to return against Norwich City for his 500th Manchester United appe

Fit-again Wayne Rooney is poised to return against Norwich City for his 500th Manchester United appearance. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Try convincing Alex Neil Manchester United is a club on a downward spiral.

The Norwich City boss knows Louis van Gaal is struggling to win over a sceptical public and arguably elements of a playing squad that still contains some genuine world class talent.

The Theatre of Dreams might not be the fortress Sir Alex Ferguson constructed but the Canaries will need a dramatic improvement from their previous lacklustre away day at Watford.

'They are four points off the top of the league so it just shows you if he is getting criticised, with his record in the game, what chance the rest of us? The problem they have got is expectation,' said Neil. 'If you think Manchester United, you think of Sir Alex Ferguson's teams beating sides 3-0, 4-0. That is what used to happen at Old Trafford on a regular basis. The fact that is not happening at the moment means the perception is something is not going right, but the team is in transition. They have a manager who has not been there all that long and a lot of young players coming through. I think the team that took the field against Bournemouth had never played together and I'm not sure they ever will again. There were a lot of young players in that side.'

United's backline for last weekend's 2-1 Premier League defeat at the Cherries contained three academy prospects aged 22 or under, but their record at Old Trafford remains formidable.

'In terms of playing young players in that respect his hands maybe have been tied with injuries but that expectation passes to their shoulders, rather than experienced professionals,' said Neil. 'Sometimes it is a case of sink or swim. It is going to be a tough game. I think the inconsistency people talk about is because in years gone by Manchester United were expected to win the majority of their games.

'Look at their form, they have not lost a league game at home all season, they have conceded one goal, so I know what people are trying to suggest but they are well-organised, hard to break down and they have good players. It is not all doom and gloom as far as I am concerned. If we produce the second half against Everton or Manchester City and Liverpool away from home there is no reason we can't be competitive and take something away.

Most Read