September 20, 2019, 17:47

Gary Neville: How Kevin De Bruyne compares to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard

Gary Neville: How Kevin De Bruyne compares to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard

“The second goal is slightly different. He has got people covering the drop back so he goes the other way. He is intelligent and the timing of his movement is perfect. You are never in doubt that his cross is going to go exactly where he should do.

“For about an hour on Saturday he was unplayable and it took me back to playing with the best crosser of the ball I played with – David Beckham.

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“Teams ordinarily tucked in narrow and tight but that tactic never worked against Manchester United. You had to get out and close him down and make sure he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet. Even from deep positions the crossing was out of this world.

“De Bruyne is repeating the level of quality and precision from that inside right channel that Beckham produced for United and that is not something I would see again in the Premier League for a long time.”

How United stopped Gerrard

While Neville played alongside Beckham at club level, he came up against Gerrard on a number of occasions when Manchester United faced Liverpool.

Neville says the problems Gerrard caused meant Sir Alex Ferguson had to change United’s tactics.

“For about two or three seasons he was dropping into that right channel and we were defending conventionally. Then we changed and, if he could, Sir Alex Ferguson always put Anderson on the left of midfield and Ryan Giggs tucked in narrow.

“It didn’t matter who was running wide, just make sure you are against Steven Gerrard. Don’t go with the decoys and distractions – stay with Gerrard.

“For three or four years we stopped Gerrard and nullified him. We changed the way we played, and very rarely did Manchester United change the way we played for a team, but Gerrard made us do that.”

How can teams stop De Bruyne?

Neville thinks the challenge now for teams is to stop De Bruyne getting space to cross from the right.

“I think it’s getting to a point now where you cannot allow De Bruyne into this space on the right. You have to deal with the threat, which is De Bruyne. He is that good from that position.

“Teams started to do it against Beckham and would leave me. Exactly the same is happening at City and teams have to stop him by defending a bit unconventionally.”

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