Gary Neville thinks Juan Mata could help solve Manchester United’s problems when they come up against teams who “defend deep” like Watford did in their loss at Vicarage Road.
A David De Gea howler allowed Ismaila Sarr to open the scoring before Troy Deeney’s penalty four minutes later secured a 2-0 victory and a first home win of the season for the Hornets.
United were poor for much of the contest but improved slightly following the introduction of Paul Pogba, who came off the bench to make his first appearance since September following an ankle injury.
The Red Devils have struggled against teams in the bottom half of the table this season and have won just one of the last 17 games in which they have enjoyed a larger portion of possession.
“They’ve had problems against team who essentially defend deep, who are compact,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“Even last week against Everton when Everton got into their shape.
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“So the games that have been causing United problems have been this type of game.
“But if United are going to try and get into the positions where Tottenham and Chelsea are looking to get to, they have to start winning these games.
“The players have got a real problem, they haven’t got enough creativity in the final third when they play against a deep defence, it’s as simple as that.
“They prefer counter-attacking, so that’s the issue. It’s a problem for United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got to try and get around it.
“He’s not used Juan Mata that much but he is the one who potentially could find passes in tight spaces, so whether he could be introduced.
“Something like that might change it in these types of games.”