Neville: United missed Pogba against City, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Neville: United missed Pogba against City

Former England star says Red Devils needed Frenchman's creativity

Manchester United's 3-1 defeat by rivals City in the English Premier League yesterday morning (Singapore time) could be attributed to Paul Pogba's absence, says Gary Neville.

The gulf between the two neighbouring clubs was put on full display at the Etihad Stadium, resulting in United manager Jose Mourinho receiving fresh criticism for a disappointing display in the Manchester Derby.

David Silva fired City ahead in the 12th minute and the Citizens doubled their lead in the third minute after the interval when Aguero thumped the ball, from a tight angle, past David de Gea.

Anthony Martial gave United a lifeline when he confidently converted a spot-kick, after Romelu Lukaku, who replaced Jesse Lingard in the 57th minute, was brought down inside the area by City goalkeeper Ederson seconds after coming on.

But, four minutes from the end, City secured the victory - their 10th in 12 games this season - after a 44-pass move was finished off by substitute Ilkay Guendogan. The win moved City back to the top of the EPL standings, two points clear of Liverpool and 12 points ahead of rivals United, Reuters reported.

A huge contributing factor to the defeat was the inability to pass the ball through midfield, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Neville felt that United were missing the injured Pogba's influence and none of the three midfielders filled the Frenchman's boots, including his replacement Marouane Fellaini, who wasn't fully fit.

"United's midfield could not pass the ball forward," the former United defender told Sky Sports.

"Pogba is the one player who thinks he can play in any stadium in the world, any pitch in the world, in front of any player in the world and take them on.

"He believes in himself which is a great quality to have and should never be underestimated to carry that through the scrutiny that he has, the criticism that he has, the price tag that he still carries, that weight in the team, and the team look towards him. He can carry the ball and he can play the pass. The rest look to him.

"I thought United were in deep trouble when I found out he wasn't playing. A midfield of (Nemanja) Matic, Fellaini and (Ander) Herrera, I was thinking how are they going to get the ball through midfield and transfer it.

"Fellaini can't play one or two touches in midfield... It was never going to happen, I didn't see how it was going to happen without Pogba."

Mourinho tried to play down Pogba's absence, but added that he couldn't unleash Fellaini as a weapon in the latter stages of the game. Instead, he had to take a risk with the Belgian given his lack of fitness.

"It is not for me to lose a game and speak about a player (Pogba)," said the 55-year-old.

"I don't like very much (to do that), but it is important for us in many aspects of the game because we had to play Fellaini.

"Fellaini was not ready to play for 90 minutes. I can just imagine when the result was 2-1 to bring a fresh Fellaini on. They would be in big, big trouble.

"But when the result was 2-1 and we had that final push, Fellaini was doing an incredible effort to stay on, not fresh at all, risking his condition and giving everything for the team.

"For different reasons we missed Paul, but that doesn't mean with Paul we win the game, so it is not excuse."