Manchester United's players must take responsibility for the disastrous season which has resulted in the sacking of David Moyes, says Gary Neville.
The Scotsman was sacked on Tuesday morning, 10 months after taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson, following a campaign which has seen last year's Premier League champions slump to seventh in the table and miss out on qualifying for Champions League football for the first time in almost two decades.
The club are guaranteed their lowest points total in the Premier League era and, while former United defender Neville says their displays have not been good enough, he insists Moyes' players deserve criticism as well as the manager.
"The players have to take massive responsibility," he told Sky Sports News.
"They're the ones out on the football pitch. I never once during my 17, 18 year career at United turned around after a game and thought 'you lost us that game, boss'. It's always the players.
"Players have to take responsibility and accountability in football but the fact of the matter is you don't go and sack 24 players.
"Those players are not as bad as they've been showing. They've got great care for United, they love the club - the ones I know - they're desperate to do well for the club but they've completely lost confidence and belief. That's ultimately what's cost David Moyes.
"These were players that were champions nine months ago and the decline has been surprising to say the least. To go from first to third or fourth may be acceptable in a transition season but to go to seventh...
"And I have to say watching them at Goodison Park on Sunday and against Liverpool three weeks ago, they were just absolutely flat, there was nothing in them. And to me that's the last thing that can happen as a United player.
"They have to take responsibility but ultimately the manager always takes responsibility because he's the one that's seen to have to drag a performance out of the players."
Sky Sports pundit Neville says he is frustrated to see Moyes sacked so early into his six-year contract with United and insists stability rather than quick-fire managerial changes is the key to success.
He also believes, while the likes of Ferguson were given time during the start of their Old Trafford tenures in the past, the modern-day culture is disrespectful to talented managers.
"I believe in managers being given time," he said. "I think they should be allowed to complete their work.
"The idea of giving people three and four and six-year contracts and then getting rid of them after 10 months is something that's foreign to me.
"However, there's no disguising that the football this season has been poor and the results have been poor.
"As a fan I've not enjoyed watching it. I'm sure David Moyes himself hasn't enjoyed watching it and I can't think of many Man United fans who would have enjoyed watching it, either.
"The performances have got worse and worse. There was a little pick-me-up before Christmas when you thought there might be a little bit of a run but in the last month or two the performances have deteriorated. Olympiakos, Liverpool and Everton were particularly low points.
"I suppose it's a different world than it was in the 1980s, when Dave Sexton, Ron Atkinson and Sir Alex Ferguson were given time during their difficult moments. That's not going to happen anymore.
"It's something I don't like about the modern game, the fact managers get sacked every 12 months. It doesn't matter whether it's my club, which is Manchester United, or any other club. And I'll continue to defend that position because my full belief is there's a lack of decency in the way football managers get dealt with.
"They're so much in the firing line. I accept it's a pressurised job and they get well paid for it but there's a way of decency of dealing with people. Football managers now just get tossed around, chucked about, disregarded, rubbished - decent men, good men seem to get thrown away.
"That's not just David Moyes that's all through football. They're always the scapegoats."
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