Manchester United picked up two points from their opening two games of the campaign.
The Red Devils beat Leicester 2-1 on the opening day before a shock loss to Brighton eight days ago.
Manager Jose Mourinho was unhappy at the club’s transfer business in the summer and also the lack of first-team players he could pick from in pre-season, with many coming back late from the World Cup.
Neville says he expected United to build on the second-half of last season, where they ended up finishing second behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
However, January signing Alexis Sanchez missed the trip to Brighton with injury and Nemanja Matic was absent for the opening two games of the campaign, also due to injury.
And Neville, speaking ahead of tonight’s visit of Tottenham, says that is why it has not gone quite as well so far for United this term.
“I think that’s the main thing (the performance),” Gary Neville said on Sky Sports.
“When you look back at sort of the last part of last season, it was obvious from Christmas onwards that City were going to win the league.
“But what you thought was when Sanchez came in he struggled, but you thought there’s three or four months here for Manchester United to play their way into form to challenge this season.
“It hasn’t gone as expected, the stuttering start in terms of obviously bringing players back, all the teams have had to cope with that.
“Sanchez getting injured, and they’ve really had to change things around in terms of the team in the first few weeks of the season.
“So it hasn’t been the fluid start that Jose Mourinho would have wanted.
“In pre-season the team that was playing was unrecognisable from what he would have wanted his first XI to be.
“So performances, getting his best players out on the pitch are absolutely critical as quickly as possible.”
Mourinho made six changes to his team for the clash with Tottenham.
Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Matic came into the side.