Neville: The Premier League is more exciting – everyone is going for it

Gary Neville believes the Premier League is becoming more exciting because every team has the desire to play on the front foot.

England’s top flight currently has six points between Liverpool in first and Tottenham in fifth, the smallest difference between first and fifth after 20 matches since the 2001-02 campaign.

With the race for Europe and the battle to avoid relegation also promising to be tight in the second half of the season, Neville believes the Premier League is better off for having 20 teams with the desire to attack in different ways.

Sunday 14th January 1:00pm Kick off 2:00pm

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“We’ve seen a more exciting Premier League because there are teams like Aston Villa and Tottenham who we didn’t expect to be overperforming, but also teams are beating each other and are always on the front foot,” he said on the Gary Neville Podcast.

“Going back 20 years, the league was full of teams who played pretty ugly football who were intent on stopping the opposition.

Who’s playing this weekend?

Friday: Burnley vs Luton, kick-off 7.45pm
Saturday: Chelsea vs Fulham, kick-off 12.30pm
Saturday: Newcastle vs Man City, kick-off 5.30pm
Sunday: Everton vs Aston Villa, kick-off 2pm – live on Sky Sports
Sunday: Man Utd vs Tottenham, kick-off 4.30pm – live on Sky Sports

“Every team across this league now thinks about how they can keep possession, win games, score goals. They’re always thinking proactively, that wasn’t the case 10 to 15 years ago and it shows how much the game has adapted. And we’re so much better for it, because it’s exciting.

“Yes, you get the odd 0-0 like you saw in the Liverpool vs Man Utd game a couple of weeks ago but more often than not, the games have chances, goals and the players are going for it.”

‘Players are demanding more from coaches’

Neville also believes the modern-day player wants to know more about tactics compared to two decades ago, when footballers were “secondary” to the manager’s way of thinking.

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Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher look back at their Premier League predictions and see how they are faring halfway through the season

“The players demand the idea of how to win the game from the managers and coaches now – what are you going to show us?” he added.

“The players used to be secondary to the coach and the manager 15 to 20 years ago. They were still important, but the manager was the prominent figure.

Sunday 14th January 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm

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“But nowadays, you talk about leaders – and there used to be them in dressing rooms – but the players are now more demanding of the idea from the coaches and how to play.

“I don’t think managers can come here now and say, we’re going to play 4-4-2, get the ball wide and get it in the box and we’re going to be direct. They would get laughed out of town in the Premier League.

“There’s a lot more subtlety to it and the players do want those patterns of play.

“When I went over to Valencia, I was asked continuously about what my idea was. When I played at Old Trafford, we adapted from a possession team, to a high pressing team, to a counter-attacking team – whatever the game demanded, we would change.

“Football is different now where we don’t see too many team changing things week in, week out. We see the same things appear from the same teams.

“We’ve got players now who do really want to know how to dominate possession, keep the ball, score goals and go forward. It means the full-backs, centre-back and goalkeepers. The goalkeepers are arguably spending more time using the ball than actually saving shots.”

Watch Everton vs Aston Villa and Man Utd vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports as the Premier League returns this weekend. Both games can be streamed with a NOW TV Pass.

Source : Sky Sports