Ferdinand says Pogba, Greenwood and Rashford can be coached to press better

Almost everybody across the world of football has had their say on Manchester United since Sunday’s 5-0 loss against Liverpool.

United legend and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s players cannot press effectively enough.

“They’ve been a counter attack team for three years. They are trying to transition into something different, but they can’t,” said Neville. “They cannot run as hard as Manchester City and Liverpool.

“Manchester United cannot press high with the players they have; you can put [Marcus] Rashford, [Mason] Greenwood and [Paul] Pogba in that. None of them sprint to the ball as hard.

“Those three, I could find you a lot of players who work as hard as them. Why they are pressing up there, I have no idea.”

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Neville’s former United teammate, Rio Ferdinand, speaking on his Vibe with Five YouTube show, completely disagreed with him.

“This is no disrespect to Gary Neville – we all watch other. I saw him saying Pogba, Rashford and Greenwood, these guys can’t press. I don’t agree with that.

“They can press. Any player can press if you’re told to, trust me. If Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, [Jack] Grealish, [Raheem] Sterling, [Riyad] Mahrez don’t press, the manager will drag them off the pitch. Same at Liverpool.

“That is how ruthless Ole has got to be. Sir Alex was on Ryan Giggs at half-time if he did not run back and intercept. David Beckham, Nani, Antonio Valencia all the same.

“If the manager enforces it – do it or you’ll be in the stands – players will do it. I don’t buy the excuse that players can’t press. We can all huff and puff but if there’s no tactical nous behind it, you will get popped off the pitch.”

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Ferdinand’s point here makes more sense. United’s players can be coached to press far more effectively and indulged less when they don’t.

And if Solskjaer has assembled a frontline he cannot get to press after almost three years in the job, that is a serious problem.

It also begs the question why Solskjaer would try and press Liverpool without the proper structure or coaching behind it. It left United vulnerable to being picked off as they were on Sunday.

A different manager could get more intense, co-ordinated pressing out of this United squad. For example, Jadon Sancho is a master of it, and Jesse Lingard has the legs to do it too.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.