Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has said he was left “demoralised” by the club’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Leicester City on Sunday.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice, while Youri Tielemans added another, as United missed out on the opportunity to play Southampton for a place in the final, with Manchester City and Chelsea paired together on the other side of the semi-final draw.
The result came just three days after United defeated AC Milan in the San Siro to progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer making five changes to his team for the trip to the King Power, including starting Bruno Fernandes on the bench.
And Neville said he was disappointed that Solskjaer’s side had missed out on a “real chance” to win their first trophy since 2017 following the 3-1 defeat to Leicester, a result which leaves the Europa League as the club’s only realistic opportunity to win silverware this season.
“I’m surprised that the team was weakened, I’m surprised the team has been rotated so much,” he said on The Gary Neville Podcast.
“I know he has been doing that [this season], Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but this was a real chance. It’s not a gimme against Southampton in the semi-final by any stretch of the imagination, but what an opportunity. And I do believe that group of players need to win a trophy under Solskjaer.
“I am demoralised a little bit tonight as a United fan because I do feel that was a really good one to go for this season.”
The result also means that United are now unable to directly stop City’s historic quadruple bid, a fact that Neville bemoaned as their rivals moved one step closer to another domestic trophy under Pep Guardiola by beating Everton on Saturday.
“If Manchester City are going to be in a final, and I know they have Chelsea to beat, then Manchester United have got to be there to stop them,” Neville added.
“You can’t rely on other teams to stop them. If you are the second best team in the country, if you have a half decent record against City, which United under Solskjaer have, then you’ve got to be the ones to stop them.
“[It’s the] same in the league, you can’t wait for other teams to stop them for you, if you want to catch teams you have to leave one on them and I am disappointed with that tonight.”
United remain City’s closest competitors in the Premier League with nine matches to go but are 14 points behind their local rivals with a game in hand.