David Moyes was sacked by United last season after it become mathematically impossible for his side to qualify for the Champions League, but Neville suggested his successor should not be judged by the same criteria.
“Louis van Gaal should not be sacked, even though it would be a terrible season for Man United and Louis van Gaal. He would probably say it was a big failure because he knows his job this season — he has to get in the Champions League.
“But, on the other hand, if he didn’t, no, you can’t just sack a manager one year and then sack another manager the year after. Where do you go from there?
“There has to be a level of continuity. I absolutely believe this time there will be continuity at Man United and they will stand by him even if he doesn’t finish in the top four and that’s the right thing to do.”
Despite Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea City, United remain fourth in the table and Neville believes they will qualify for the Champions League.
“I still think Manchester United will finish in the top four — I think they will scrape in,” he said. “At the start of the season I thought they’d finish third. There is a period in March where they have Arsenal in an FA Cup quarterfinal, then they have Spurs the Sunday after and Liverpool after that. There is an international break and then they have got Aston Villa, Man City and Chelsea.
“That will be a big period but, actually, Van Gaal and Man United started the season really poorly and these big games came along and they seemed to grow.
“I’d like to think these games will inspire some of the bigger players at Man United. They need to step up their performances. There is no doubt about that.”
Not so sure if United’s moneymen will agree with Neville. United financially could overcome missing the Champions League once, but the cost to miss it again will be at least another £50 million. Even for a club as rich as United that is a lot of money.
There is also the issue of signing world class players this summer if United miss out on the Champions League again. Will they be able to attract the kind of players they will need to get back amongst the elite of Europe?
Do you think van Gaal will keep his job if United fail to finish in the top four?