Pogba’s recent injury comeback had inspired a return to form for United, but Mourinho must now plan for the Manchester derby without the Frenchman at his disposal.
Neville thinks Pogba’s absence could see Mourinho try and out maneuver Pep Guardiola when it comes to formations.
‘I was excited by what I was watching in the first 20 minutes against Arsenal, the counter-attacking was fantastic,’ he said on his podcast.
Manchester United 2017/18 Fixtures
CSKA Moscow (H) – Tues Dec 5 (Champions League)
Manchester City (H) – Sun Dec 10
West Bromwich Albion (A) – Sun Dec 17
Bristol City (A) – Wed Dec 20 (EFL Cup)
Leicester City (A) – Sat Dec 23
Burnley (H) – Tues Dec 26
Southampton (H) – Sat Dec 30
Everton (A) – Mon Jan 1
Stoke City (H) – Sat Jan 20
Tottenham (A) – Wed Jan 31
‘(Jesse) Lingard, (Anthony) Martial and (Romelu) Lukaku were brilliant, and you could see a little bit how (Nicolas) Otamendi or (Vincent) Kompany could get caught.
‘You could see how that tactic could work in the Manchester derby.
‘Pogba makes a big, big difference. So when they went to Anfield, they couldn’t connect the deep defence to the midfield and into attack. He connects that, he links it, with those runs forward and his composure on the ball.
‘It was a cloud over a very good day for United because he is such an important player in the connection between the front and the back.
‘The composure he shows travelling with the ball, you see West Ham when they were deep with 20 minutes to go, they didn’t have anybody that could travel with the ball, past (Kevin) De Bruyne and (David) Silva.
‘You think about Pogba, he would beat De Bruyne and Silva with the ball at his feet and break that line.
‘Once you break that line you’re onto the weakness, you’re onto those two centre-backs with Lukaku and Martial.
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‘City is a big game to not have Pogba. The person who can break the line is gone, but Jose Mourinho will be looking at how he can do it differently.
‘I was trying to think myself what Jose will be thinking. Do you play split strikers with Martial and Lukaku?
‘City bring their full-backs in narrow while two centre-backs push up the pitch, [so United could] just leave two strikers stretched wide and you play three central midfielders and five at the back, and say to City that’s what we’ll do, trust that the front two will get into those areas.’