Gary Neville forced into Manchester United U-turn ahead of Liverpool clash

Pre-season expectations at Manchester United were perhaps, somewhat surprisingly low.

Despite a strong finish to the season seeing them secure a top-four finish, there were few anticipating a title push under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this time around.

Even the most ardent supporters felt usurping Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, was too tall a task.

Gary Neville has always been unapologetic in his staunch support of his former club. But before the campaign kicked off, he felt the Red Devils were in no position to have a real title tilt.

"I think Manchester United are in a similar position to Chelsea," Neville said. "They've got to make progression from last season, and I don't have that expectation as a United fan that they're going to break that top two this season.

"I don't feel they're quite ready but they have to make sure that gap is smaller. They have to make sure they close the gap on the top two and make sure they're progressing."

After six games, the idea of closing the gap even looked ambitious. Three defeats in that period left United marooned in the bottom half, with Solskjaer’s job seemingly hanging by a thread.

Fast forward three months and the situation has completely changed. The win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday made it 11 games unbeaten in the league, with nine of those ending in United victories.

Their latest win saw them not only leapfrog old rivals Liverpool, but move to the top of the table. The first time they’ve been in that position, at this point of the season since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

United head to Anfield on Sunday looking to open up a gap of their own, a win would see them move six points clear of the champions and announce themselves as genuine title contenders.

Will Manchester United win the Premier League title this season? Have your say here.

And just months after suggesting top-two would be a stretch, Neville has now changed his tune, asking the question most United fans are asking…why not them?

"It's a strange season. Why shouldn't Manchester United fans believe? Why shouldn't this side believe? Look at the front three, look at that midfield four, look at Bruno Fernandes – they have some fantastic players,” he told Sky Sports in the wake of their win over Burnley.

"l believe these players feel they can have a really special season. It's odd, it's changing every single week, you don't know what is going to happen and there's an element of unpredictability and Manchester United could exploit that."

Everything is still on the table for Manchester United’s season at this point, but there is no doubt that expectations have now dramatically been altered.

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