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“It hurts to say this…” – Gary Neville pays surprising praise to Man United star after win vs Everton



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Gary Neville was full of praise for Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo after the 3-0 win against Everton on Sunday afternoon.

Mainoo, 18, made his full Premier League debut as he slotted into the base of Erik ten Hag’s midfield and he shone during the victory for United.

Arguably the best player on the pitch, the England U19 international was elegant and confident in his play on the ball but also put in a defensive shift when United were under threat.

In fact, his goal-line clearance was a crucial moment when Everton applied pressure in the latter stages of the first half when there was only a single goal separating the two sides.

Gary Neville was particularly pleased with the performance from Mainoo in the situation, with the Everton supporters expected to be hostile ahead of the fixture due to their points deduction.

“He’s obviously got technical ability and skill, you don’t play for Manchester United in the first place if you haven’t got that and you don’t get picked by Erik ten Hag if you haven’t got that,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“But what you don’t know is how they’re going to handle it and he’s gone in there at Goodison Park in what could’ve been the most ferocious atmosphere at Goodison Park for many a year, and he looked class.

“And we know he’s class, he’s got that ability, but he looked class in that environment.

“I always judge players when it’s the most difficult part of the game and Manchester United when they had that most difficult period in the first half, I thought he was the only player that showed up. The only player who still looked like himself.”

Ten Hag will certainly be looking at involving the young midfielder more as the season goes on as he possesses the attributes that not many other midfielders at the club offer.

In fact, Neville has suggested that Mainoo looks like he plays under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City because of his playstyle, which is something that pains him despite being praise.

“The biggest compliment I can pay him and it hurts to say this and I hope people will take this in the right sort of spirit – he looked like a Manchester City player,” continued Neville.

“Honestly, I was watching him and I was thinking that he’s a player that Pep Guardiola would be looking at and thinking ‘I’d want him in my midfield, that’s what my midfield players do’, and thankfully Manchester United have got him.

“He looks so composed and so graceful on the ball. He’s always looking over his shoulder, knowing where he is, letting the ball run across his body. It’s not easy to do that and at 18 to be doing that out there…

“Look, he’ll have tougher games and he’s got a long challenge in front of him of a football career and there will be injuries, ups and downs, other players coming in because he’s playing at a club that has huge demands upon it, but that was very, very good that.”