Andy Cole says Manchester United shouldn’t kid themselves into thinking Jadon Sancho alone will transform them into title winners.
The Old Trafford legend believes United are ‘two or three years behind’ rivals Liverpool and Manchester City at the moment.
United have so far failed to sign No 1 summer transfer target Sancho and are refusing to meet Borussia Dortmund’s £109million asking price.
Man United legend Andy Cole says the club are ‘two or three years behind’ rivals Liverpool and Manchester City when it comes to challenging for the Premier League title
United have so far failed in their efforts to sign No 1 summer transfer target Jadon Sancho
The prospects don’t look to great for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United start the new season
And it’s led to a feeling of despondency among United fans only made worse by last weekend’s 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener.
‘We have got to be realistic – to win the Premier League, Man United are possibly two or three years away,’ said Cole.
‘We have got to be honest, I am not going to try and kid anyone.
‘If you buy Jadon Sancho for £109m, does that mean Manchester United are going to win the league?
‘It might take them a bit closer but when you see Liverpool have added two very good players, Manchester City have added two very good players, it takes more than that to win the league.
‘If you look at Liverpool, it has taken them 30 years to win the league and they have gone through loads of different players to get there.
United were beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in their opening league fixture
Donny van de Beek, signed from Ajax, remains United’s only signing of the summer so far
Premier League unless stated
Saturday Brighton (A)
Wednesday Brighton (A)
Carabao Cup fourth round
October 4 Tottenham (H)
October 17 Newcastle (A)
October 24 Chelsea (H)
October 31 Arsenal (H)
Fixtures subject to change
‘And you look at Manchester City, how many years did it take them to win the league, how many players have they gone through?
‘I am a realist. I know if they brought in Sancho, of course he would improve Manchester United.
‘Would he improve Manchester United to the point where they would blow away the other two teams? I am not quite sure about that.’
Though United, managed by Cole’s former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, finished third in last season’s Premier League, they ended up 33 points behind champions Liverpool and 14 shy of second-placed City.
And the former striker doesn’t believe United will necessarily get any closer this season.
‘I want to sit here and say Man United will win the league this season but then I’d look in the mirror and say “why am I lying?”‘ he said.
‘We have to be honest and say United are two to three years away. The gap needs to close, it has to close.
‘But as you try to close the gap the team you’re working against are also trying to improve.
‘Football is a cycle. At some stage you will close that gap but the team underneath you will also get there at some stage.’
United’s lack of squad depth was exposed towards the end of last season when they had to compete on three fronts post-restart in June.
And with just one summer signing to date – midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax – the situation hasn’t improved as we enter a hectic schedule this season.
But Cole points out that signing quality squad players is easier said than done.
Liverpool ended their long wait for a Premier League title last season and Cole believes United are some way behind their Merseyside rivals
Cole also believes United have fallen a long way behind Manchester City but will catch up
‘What good player wants to come and sit on the bench?’ he said.
‘It’s a juggling act but when you look at the starting XI at United you can say it’s good, it’s very good.
‘When you need to bring in someone to replace those very good players, he will turn around and say ‘I’m a very good player, why would I want to sit on the bench? I might as well go over there where I’m going to play.’
‘When you look at the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, things like that are easier because although they might not all get game time you know at the end of the season they’ll be pushing to win major honours.
‘That softens the blow because you know that the team will be playing 60-odd games a season and the odds of winning something are very high.’
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