Gary Neville sets bar for Erik ten Hag success in first Manchester United season

Ten Hag's United reign will begin in earnest on Sunday when his new side gets the season under way against Brighton at Old Trafford. United go into the campaign coming off of their worst ever Premier League performance, after finishing sixth on just 58 points last season.

So Neville believes that, given the difficulties the Dutchman has faced this summer, improvement on last year's dismal campaign even if by just a place in the table would make for a good first year in charge for the new manager. He said on Friday Night Football: “I think it would be to grab that fourth place. If he was to grab fourth place from where I sit here today, Id say that is a brilliant performance, I really would.

“Actually as I sit here with the business they havent done, I would say I wouldnt expect him to get fourth place I would say to be fair, Chelsea have done good business, Arsenal have done good business, Tottenham have done good business, City and Liverpool have improved. If youd have said to me Id probably say sixth at this moment in time but if you shifted them up to fifth or fourth Id say that was a good performance.

“If they got [Frenkie] De Jong or someone else in then that bar comes higher. The Ronaldo situation distracting, you seen him having to answer questions about it in the press conference, the fact that Martials injured and he was actually going to leave the club six months ago, the fact they havent got De Jong yet, the fact he hasnt been supported like the other managers and getting it early, I think it means its an already harder job than it already was.”

Neville believes there are still a lot of unanswered questions at Old Trafford to accurately predict how good they're going to be. He continued: “Thats the difficulty with fourth place, I havent got a clue what I'm going to see. Im expecting a better Manchester United than last season to what level we dont know yet.

“What theyre going to do in the transfer market? Is Cristiano going to stay or go? All those questions need to be answered.

“Theyre almost juggling balls in the air and we dont know basically whats going to happen. Im not even sure whats going to happen Sunday, it was positive in pre-season and I liked what I saw but Old Trafford, Brighton, first Premier League game, youre not wholly convinced you know what youre going to see and Manchester United are going to have a solid home victory.

“Well wait and see, well look at them Sunday, theyve got a big game coming up against Liverpool so they need a couple of wins and they have a difficult one against Brentford next week so theyre going to need that win over Brighton. If they werent to get the points on Sunday it will just take the confidence away for those two games going up.”