Manchester United remain “years away” from piecing together a Premier League title challenge, admits Andy Cole.
The Red Devils have failed to get their hands on the English top-flight crown since Sir Alex Ferguson headed into retirement on the back of his 13th success in 2013.
David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have been unable to reclaim a standing at the summit, with the latter getting as close as anybody with a runner-up finish in 2017-18.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now charged with the task of forcing United back into contention, but he has taken on a big job.
Cole, who formed part of the Red Devils’ historic Treble triumph in 1999, concedes that the rebuilding project at Old Trafford remains a work in progress.
He is not expecting that to change any time soon, telling Sky Sports: “I genuinely believe we’re still a few years away.
“We’ve just got to keep improving, keep bringing in better players and just try and improve season by season, because the two teams at the top – Liverpool and Manchester City – they’re pulling away from everyone.
“I was in a team at Manchester United where we were doing exactly the same thing and in the end, everyone else closed the gap.
“It’s a case of just keep persevering, keep improving season by season and closing the gap.”
United finished 32 points adrift of arch-rivals Manchester City last season as Pep Guardiola’s side enjoyed back-to-back title wins.
If the Red Devils are to close that gap, then they need to find inspiration from somewhere.
They have boasted those qualities in abundance down the years, on and off the field, with two iconic figures from their recent past having made plenty of headlines of late.
Former captain Roy Keane has been speaking his mind again, with the Irishman suggesting that United legend Ferguson did not always have the best interests of the club at heart.
Cole hopes any differences between two men he holds in the highest regard can be ironed out, saying: “It’s disappointing but I’m just hoping that both of them can address the situation and work it out because I’ve got a lot of time for the pair of them.
“I spoke to Roy the other day and I’ve always had a great relationship with Sir Alex, so fingers crossed they will be able to sort it out.”