Gary Neville’s Leeds United relegation predictions and Man Utd great’s praise for three players

Leeds United face Manchester United this Sunday in the Premier League at Elland Road and here’s a look at what Gary Neville has said about the Whites recently.

Thursday, 17th February 2022, 12:00 pm

Leeds United host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon hoping to make amends for their 5-1 opening day humbling earlier this season.

The Whites were left licking their wounds after a heavy defeat against their bitter rivals at Old Trafford, and a win on home soil this time out could be enough to move Marcelo Bielsa’s side nine points clear of the relegation zone.

It wasn’t overly long ago that Gary Neville would have been lining up for the Reds in this very fixture.

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The former Man United defender is one of the club’s most famous and successful youth products, and went head to head with Leeds on numerous occasions during his own storied career.

These days, however, he has established himself as one of the most influential pundits in the English game, and ever since the Whites were promoted back to the top flight, he’s had plenty to say about them.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s clash, we’ve gathered up some of his most recent comments on Leeds below...

On Leeds’ survival hopes

After a costly defeat to Everton at the weekend, and following a recent upturn in form from Newcastle United, Neville has spoken frankly about his concerns for Leeds’ hopes of steering clear of a relegation battle this season.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “I think that Leeds could get dragged into it, but Brentford I’d be a little bit worried about because they’ve played more games. I do feel that Newcastle team, after that performance, isn’t going down.

“So, for me, one or two of those sides, Leeds, and Brentford in particular, that could get dragged back into it if they’re not careful.

“They’d be big losses to the Premier League by the way, as any team would be as you don’t want to see anyone go down, but Brentford and Leeds have brought a lot in the last couple of seasons.

“I’ve always seen good games when those two teams have played but that won’t count for anything in this last third of the season. It’s going to be tough.”

On the importance of returning players

One of the biggest challenges that Marcelo Bielsa has faced this season is the constant rotating cast of injuries and absences that he and his side have had to endure.

But Neville believes that the Whites have more than enough quality to beat the drop once everybody is back fit and firing.

Speaking back in September, he told Sky Sports: “It’s the most worried I’ve ever been about Burnley going down.

“Not because Burnley have regressed, I think the quality of the league is so good, it’s so good and if Newcastle and Leeds play to the standard that I think they can do, I think Burnley are in serious trouble.

“The reason I think Burnley will survive is because I trust them in terms of consistency more than the rest.

“Leeds and Newcastle both worry me, Leeds are flaky. I know they’ve got injuries at the moment. But they are a little bit flaky. If they get [Patrick] Bamford and Kalvin Phillips back and the others then they should be just okay.

“Newcastle keep pointing towards the January transfer window as if it’s going to be some magical moment. They’re still going to have a massive amount to do.

“But I am worried about Burnley more than I have been just because I think the quality of the league is the best I’ve ever seen.”

On his old Man United loyalties

Generally speaking, Neville tends to take quite a positive view of Leeds’ work in the Premier League, but every now and again he can’t help letting his old rivalry with the club creep in.

Speaking on an Instagram Live Q&A earlier in the season, the ex-England international was asked by one fan whether Leeds were ‘in trouble?’.

“I hope so,” Neville replied, chuckling.

On the arrival of Dan James

It’s not often that players cross the divide and play for both Leeds and Man United, but Dan James became the latest talent to add his name to that list when he completed a move to Elland Road last summer.

Reflecting on the deal for Sky Sports, Neville said: “It’s really good for Dan James. It’s one of those where this is a win-win. He came to [Manchester] United and always did his very best, he was a massive threat on the counter-attack, but they have a lot of players in those areas.

“It’s really important for young players to go and play, and Leeds have always wanted him. They wanted him the first time around when [Manchester] United got him instead.

“He’ll suit the way they play with such pace on the counter-attack. He’ll love it there, the crowd’s a big crowd, a club that demands a lot.

“It’s a good thing for [Manchester] United to get the money they did, and good for Dan to further his career at a good club.”

On Kalvin Phillips

Regardless of loyalties and rivalries, Phillips seemingly has an army of advocates in the world of punditry, and Neville is chief among them.

Hailing the Leeds talisman earlier in the season, he said: “He [Phillips] came into the Premier League 12 months ago. Now he is the best English midfield player there is, without a shadow of a doubt.

“He is actually a throwback midfield player who can do everything. He runs, he tackles, he passes, he can defend, honestly, he is fantastic.”