Manchester United’s victory over Liverpool at Anfield is a “significant day” in the top-four race, says Gary Neville.
Juan Mata scored twice to give Louis van Gaal’s men a 2-1 victory on Super Sunday, while the Reds had Steven Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after the midfielder came on as a substitute.
United are now five points clear of Brendan Rodgers’ side after an impressive first-half display which, Neville told The Super Sunday Podcast, is as important as the result.
“I think it’s a significant day, I really do,” said the former full-back. “Significant not just because Manchester United have won, but their performance.
“I didn’t think they were capable of coming here today and performing like they did against Tottenham last week.
“Tottenham were desperately poor in that match – we were there – and I didn’t think Liverpool could be made to look so poor in that first half an hour.
“This has always been, historically, the most difficult place for Manchester United to come and play football in the first 25, 30 minutes. It’s always been a scrap, a fight and I have to say they were absolutely fantastic in that first period of the game.
“I think that will carry a lot with the Liverpool players; that they had to play in that game in the most difficult period against a team that were passing it, and they were chasing shadows. How often do you say that about Liverpool at Anfield? They usually dominate possession.”
Sunday’s result also moves Van Gaal’s men to within a point of third-placed Arsenal and just two behind Manchester City in second place.
The United boss said after the match the key factor was their gap to the teams below them, and Neville agrees, saying his former club should not get carried away and just focus on securing Champions League football next season.
“I think, if you’re being pragmatic, it would be silly of Manchester United to think upwards, in respect of the title or anything like that,” he added.
“Manchester United have got to consolidate where they are. They’ve got City and Chelsea in a couple of weeks and then they’ve got Arsenal at home, so they’ve got three really difficult fixtures along with Crystal Palace and Everton away.
“There’s five fixtures I’m pointing towards – that’s not to say I’m writing the other ones off, but they stand out as being awkward fixtures and, in some cases, very difficult.
“They only picked up one point off Chelsea and Manchester City in the fixtures early on in the season.