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Manchester United are on a roll - but the danger is Ed Woodward and the Glazers think thatandapos;s good enough

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Manchester United’s response to seeing Liverpool crowned Premier League champions has been decent.

An FA Cup semi final booked on Saturday – and at Brighton a 3-0 win with the type of performance to ignite hopes that the gap to Jurgen Klopp’s side might not be as wide the table suggests.

But before any United fans gets too excited, Gary Neville has a sobering message.

“It’s important that they don’t think that they’re there,” said the pundit. “They’re not. They still need to add more quality players.”

A former United captain, Neville is desperate to ensure this opportunity isn’t missed.

Inside an empty Amex Stadium, his words in the Sky commentary booth may have been said with the intention of reaching the watching Ed Woodward.

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

There was a sense of him doing his old mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a favour as he refused to get carried away with what he was seeing.

The last thing the Norwegian needs is for executive vice chairman Woodward and owners the Glazers to think the job is done.

A run of 15 games without defeat and a brand of football as good as any seen since Sir Alex Ferguson is further endorsement of the work being done by Solskjaer as part of his cultural reset.

Brighton 0-3 Man United: Bruno Fernandes brace sends Red Devils fifth Neville: Man Utd need 'three or four signings' like Fernandes

He’s moved on two strikers and made prolific goal-scorers of the ones he inherited in Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

And in Mason Greenwood, he’s using a scholar to fill a problem position on the right that United have spent fortunes trying to solve in the market.

The danger is Woodward and the Glazers think that’s good enough.

It’s not.

Liverpool are 34 points clear of their fiercest rivals with a game in hand and on course to set a new benchmark in English football.

(Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

That’s the level United still need to reach – and Solskjaer confirmed as much on the eve of this game when insisting he is still in search of a top class striker despite the strides made by his forwards.

He is uncertain what money he will have to spend when the transfer window opens as United count the cost of Covid-19 – but he’s determined to land Jadon Sancho.

That is the type of statement signing to prove United are not prepared to settle. That they want to build on the promise shown since January.

A lacklustre win at Norwich in their FA Cup quarter-final was evidence of the drop off in quality when Solskjaer makes changes.

Likewise against Brighton where the withdrawal of the outstanding Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba when the game was long-since won. With their departure went United’s flow and menace.

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

They now have a starting XI that looks capable of hurting anyone – but Solskjaer needs depth if he is going to realise his ambition of mounting a genuine title challenge next season.

He needs Woodward to make good on his promise to make this an “important summer” and allow his manager to complete his overhaul.

Solskjaer has done his part – improved the talent he inherited and recruited players worthy of the shirt.

None more so than Fernandes, who scored twice, hit the post and showed more signs of his developing relationship with Pogba that should be the platform for United’s ascendancy.

Fernandes was responsible for United’s resurgence before lockdown. Since then his partnership with Pogba has added a new dimension to their play, allowing them to dominate in midfield.

(AP)

Deep-lying defences can now be unlocked by their quick passing and movement. Behind a front three of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, United now have so many ways they can hurt you.

This was a game when Rashford and Martial were quieter than usual – yet United still scored three and created a host of other chances.

Greenwood is a spectacular, special talent and looks determined to prove his manager wrong.

(REUTERS)

Solskjaer may have accelerated his promotion to the first team, but he is intent on managing the teenager’s progress. It won’t be for another two years, he says, that Greenwood will be fully established.

His 14th goal of the season suggests he has other ideas and, maybe, is intent of convincing his manager to hold off on a move for Sancho.

The 18-year-old runs at pace with the ball in a manner not seen at United since Cristiano Ronaldo – and is able to shift onto either foot to leave defenders dazed and confused.

That was certainly the case for Lewis Dunk as Greenwood burst into the box on 16 minutes.

Two stepovers later he’d flashed a shot past Mathew Ryan to put United ahead.

(PA)

Solskjaer describes him as the best finisher at the club. Others liken his shooting to Robin van Persie.

Fernandes, meanwhile, continues to be compared to Paul Scholes – and his goal on 29 minutes further enhanced his reputation, even if his shot from the edge of the area took a heavy deflection.

But his second and United’s third was pure class and throwback to Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Nani in their pomp.

Harry Maguire’s headed clearance started the move. Then Nemanja Matic’s sweeping reverse pass gave Greenwood something the chase.

His cross to the far post found the waiting Fernandes to volley home.

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It was a devastating counter attack and display of United’s development.

But they remain precisely that - a team that is developing.

The job is not done.

As Neville says, now is the time to build, not to stand still.




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