September 30, 2018 / 2:27 PM / in 23 days

Neville says Mourinho not to blame for United mess

LONDON (Reuters) - Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville defended the club’s beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho on Sunday but accused those above him of having no long-term plan to restore former glories.

Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United v Manchester United - London Stadium, London, Britain - September 29, 2018 Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Defeat at West Ham United on Saturday meant United have won only three of their opening seven Premier League games in their worst start to a season since 1989-90 and now sit 10th in the table.

They are already nine points behind crosstown rivals and league champions Manchester City, who went top this weekend when Chelsea and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

By winning the Europa League and the League Cup in his first season, then finishing second in the Premier League last time, Mourinho improved on the unsuccessful managerial regimes of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal that followed Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

Supporters have not appreciated the more pragmatic style of football, however, and tensions have been apparent with players such as the record 89 million pounds ($116 million) signing Paul Pogba.

Yet Neville believes the board panicked in sacking Moyes after less than a year and must back Mourinho now.

“This mess started when United sacked David Moyes after 8 months and we lost all sense of the values that the club had been built on for 100 years,” he said on Twitter to his four million followers.

“It went into pinball, reactive mode and chasing it. No plan!

“It’s not the manager it’s the lack of football leadership above him. They are bouncing all over the place with no plan!”

Neville’s former team mates Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes also expressed dismay at the current situation after the West Ham game.

Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Toby Davis

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