Neville on Mourinho: "I think him being in the league is a big positive, I genuinely do!"
Gary Neville has given his opinion on the standard of defending in the Premier League and believes this was the reason for English clubs ...
Gary Neville has given his opinion on the standard of defending in the Premier League and believes this was the reason for English clubs failing in the Champions League last season. However, he believes Jose Mourinho is "bringing it back to a level".
So much was made of last year and the difference in Chelsea between the beginning to the second half of the season. Chelsea were criticised and blasted for adopting a defensive approach in certain games such as Manchester United at home. Chelsea won the game 1-0 as you will remember, but we won having the lowest possession percentage at home EVER!. At the end of the day we took three points on our way to winning the League!
So to Gary Neville and his comments about the Premier League defending and of his admiration for Mourinho. He said:
"The biggest trend in the Premier League is a lot of clubs copying Barcelona by the way they split their centre-backs to what I would call a ludicrous degree – five yards off the touchline.
I’m watching players who haven’t got the ability to pass it five yards dropping five yards off the touchline and thinking they can play it out from the back, with goalkeepers who aren’t capable.
When you have [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen in goal, or [Victor] Valdes, with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets, I get it. But you do it with some of the players that I’ve watched do it in the past three or four years, and it’s an absolute nonsense. That’s my little dig...
Managers, players, coaches, teams and fans all want more risk, and I genuinely believe that the standard of defending in the past three or four years in the Premier League has been reflected through the performances of our teams in Europe.
This is not just an old defender who’s retired, whinging. We have a massive problem at the moment with the standard of our game – it’s a different level in some European teams than at Premier League level.
Look, it could be cycles – we will come out of it, I’m sure. But we’re going through a really poor period.
The reality of it is, if you don’t defend well, you’re going to find it very difficult to win the European Cup.
I think Jose Mourinho is starting to bring it back, to a level. My hope was he was going to go away and blitz the Premier League by 25 points, and then everyone else thinks: ‘Right, I’ve got to go away and get up to that standard.’ That’s what could happen in this next couple of years.
I think him being in the league is a big positive, I genuinely do. I think Louis van Gaal being in the league is a big positive, because they’ll push each other."
I have to agree with Neville - the standard of Premier League defending has dropped with teams being encouraged to play exciting football.
Look at Chelsea as the perfect example. Roman Abramovich reportedly asked for more expressive and attractive football from his team and we have seen Managers come and go such as Scolari and AVB try and fail here.
You look at what was happening to Chelsea in both instances and the fact that we were fighting to finish inside the top four, let alone to make a challenge for the title and it had alarm bells ringing inside the corridors of Stamford Bridge.
You MUST have a balance in a team. You have to have a side that can play with flair and but they also have to be resolute defensively. Chelsea are that team with Arsenal now not far behind.
Yes we still make mistakes at the back and against PSG it cost us last year but Neville is spot on about our League.
It's interesting to hear him talk of wanting Chelsea to walk away with the title last season so other managers would have to sit up, take notice and adopt a different approach.
Will that happen this coming season? Only time will tell.
What do you think about Neville's comments?