Updated: Friday, 13th September 2019 @ 2:25pm

Is the 'empire crumbling'? Gary Neville challenges Manchester United to regain Premier League title

Is the 'empire crumbling'? Gary Neville challenges Manchester United to regain Premier League title

By Ben Burrows

Gary Neville says regaining the Premier League title is the main goal for his former Manchester United teammates for the 2012/13 season.

Neville – who is now a Sky Sports pundit and a member of Roy Hodgson’s England coaching staff – also said that the pre-season tour of China will be vital in their Premier League preparations.

United suffered a rare trophy-less season in 2011/12 and the former skipper says that trying to wrestle the title back from neighbours Manchester City will provide added motivation for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

“The challenge this season is always the same: it’s to win the Premier League, do well in the cups and do well in the Champions League. That challenge never changes.

“But, obviously, when you don’t win anything you have an added incentive because people start to question the team and wonder if the empire is crumbling.

“The manager and the players have had to cope with all that before, so this challenge is something they’ll all be looking forward to.”

United start their pre-season programme next week with the likes of Danny Welbeck, Nani and Wayne Rooney returning from international duty at Euro 2012 but Neville says the others will still be in good physical condition.

“I think the lads who haven’t been away on international duty will be loving being back at Carrington,” he said.

“They won’t come back out of shape, though. The majority of them will have started doing their own individual fitness programmes a few weeks ago.”

He added: “You always feel like those lads who have gone on tour and done that intensive fitness training have a head start.

“The month before the season – the time spent at Carrington and the time spent on tour – is of huge benefit to a player.  It can help the team, too, to get wins under the belt and build a bit of momentum.”

Neville also points out that a trip to play in Asia – where United have a reported 300 million fans – is the perfect preparation for playing week in week out at Old Trafford.

“It’s the perfect preparation for eventually walking out at Old Trafford in front of 75,000 people for your home debut.

“If they’re not already aware of the size of the club, a trip to Asia will soon sort them out.”

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.