football

Erik ten Hag: Gary Neville believes Manchester United manager is facing 'moment of truth' at Old Trafford

Gary Neville admits he is "worried" for Erik ten Hag as the Dutchman prepares to face his "moment of truth" at Manchester United.

Sunday's defeat in the Manchester derby was United's 11th in the Premier League this season and left Ten Hag's side 11 points off fourth-placed Aston Villa and six behind fifth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in hand.

After an early exit from the Champions League and a weak attempt at defending the Carabao Cup, United's only chance of rescuing a miserable campaign is by winning the FA Cup. They face rivals Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville feels his former club have regressed since last season which will leave new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS group doubting if Ten Hag remains the right person for the job.

"Last season was really good in the sense of winning a trophy, getting into the Champions League, getting to an FA Cup final. There were a lot of good things about last season in terms of setting a foundation for Erik ten Hag," Neville said.

"I would have expected this season, not to win the league as no one expected Manchester United to win the league, but they didn't expect them to be in sixth and so far off.

"So I think that's the problem. They've lost 11 games in the league and their performances are inconsistent, so is it because that's what happens in the second season? He just needs a third to get it right?

"Or actually, is this just what they are and this is what he is? That's the challenge Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS will have, where are we at in this journey? Are we going in the right direction?"

United had won four consecutive games in the Premier League to boost their hopes of European qualification but last weekend's 2-1 defeat by Fulham at Old Trafford saw them lose ground on the sides above them.

After league games against Everton and Brentford either side of an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Liverpool, Ten Hag's side travel to Chelsea before hosting Jurgen Klopp's team again on April 7, live on Sky Sports.

Neville insists it is a vital period for the Dutchman and his players.

"Last week against Fulham was more of a problem than the game against City. This one was likely to end in defeat. Villa play Spurs next week so one or both will drop points," the former United captain said.

"United can get closer and I still think there's a long way to go. After the March internationals, there's the run-in where Villa and Spurs have still got to do a job so there's still hope for United.

"But they're inconsistent. Last week's defeat to Fulham was the real blow. The moment of truth is now.

"In Ole and David Moyes' periods at the club, they had games against Man City and Liverpool in very quick succession.

"Erik ten Hag has a game against City and then two against Liverpool in the next month. He will be judged on these matches. INEOS aren't going to wait until the end of the season to make a decision.

"This is a massive month for these players and the manager.

"I am worried. The performance levels need to be better. They need to put together a coordinated consistency that makes you look like a team."

March 9: Everton (H) - Premier League, kick-off 12.30pm

March 17: Liverpool (H) - FA Cup quarter-final, kick-off 3.30pm

March 30: Brentford (A) - Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

April 4: Chelsea (A) - Premier League, kick-off 8.15pm

April 7: Liverpool (H) - Premier League, kick-off 3.30pm, live on Sky Sports

April 14: Bournemouth (A) - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

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