Former Man Utd midfielder Paul Ince has insisted that Man Utd are still well off competing with Liverpool and Man City after recent comments from Gary Neville.
As noted by Sky Sports, the pundit revealed that he’s growing in confidence in terms of his belief that the Red Devils can compete next season, although he stressed that they still need a number of top signings to help bridge that gap and add more quality on top of what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer currently has.
He emphasised the improvement in the current team and believes that this summer could be crucial as United could be among just a select few clubs in Europe who can still spend money to strengthen amid the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, and that could give them a major advantage to bridge that gap quicker than expected.
“If we hadn’t had this virus, I think Man Utd could’ve been two or three years away,” he said. “United still need to add a few players of really high quality, and they are in a position to be able to capitalise this summer in the transfer market. They will be one of the clubs who still has some ability to do some business, and whereas in the past they’ve found it difficult to keep prices and wages down in the past eight years, they’ll be in a very strong position to hold their nerve this summer.
“So I don’t know why it is, but I feel a little more confident in Manchester United’s ability to challenge next season just because of what’s happened, and the fact they started to play a lot better before this lockdown.”
There is no denying that United look to be heading in the right direction now as their form prior to the suspension of the campaign showed that, while the signings of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno Fernandes have shown better judgement in the transfer market and a long-term strategy to get back to the top.
So in some ways, it’s easy to see where Neville is coming from and why he would be more optimistic now than he was perhaps at the start of the season.
However, Ince clearly doesn’t agree, as although it doesn’t appear as though he has named Neville specifically in terms of directing his comments to him, he still believes that Man Utd are nowhere near ready to compete next year and will still take time to repair the damage done in recent years which has seen them slip off the pace.
“It will take a long time to catch up and if anyone at Old Trafford thinks it can be done in a couple of years with some big money signings, they are kidding themselves,’ Ince told Planet Football, as quoted by the Metro. “There has been a lot of damage caused by the instability at the club over the last six years and at the same time, Liverpool have had stability, especially since Klopp came in.
“Liverpool have had a plan, they stuck to it even when things didn’t go great for Klopp in his first year and now they are getting the rewards. At United, managers have come and gone, they’ve had their own ideas on players, spent fortunes on terrible signings. Because of that they found themselves 30 points behind Liverpool at the halfway point of the season, which is embarrassing for a club of United’s stature.”
Ince makes a fair assessment of the situation at Old Trafford too, and so ultimately time will tell if any further additions this summer result in a more competitive Man Utd next season and at what level they can perform on a consistent basis to put themselves back in the conversation as a legitimate contender in the Premier League.