Andy Cole believes Manchester United are “a few years behind” the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
The Old Trafford giants have stumbled since Sir Alex Ferguson went out with a bang in 2013, when he retired on the back of his 13th Premier League crown.
United have failed to launch a sustained title bid since then and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side currently sit an eye-watering 37 points behind leaders Liverpool, who are on the cusp of their first league win since 1990.
Cole is confident that United will not have to wait that long to taste glory again, but the club great knows the path back to the top is unlikely to be straightforward.
“Football is a cycle,” the former striker told the Counter Attack podcast.
“Losing Sir Alex Ferguson, him retiring, the next manager, whoever was going to step in, was going to find it really, really difficult.
“I wouldn’t liked to have followed him as the manager and that’s what it’s been. It’s been very much trial and error, changing managers and all that.
“But on the flipside, if you look at Liverpool, it’s taken Liverpool 30 years to win the Premier League – obviously not the Premier League, but the main league.
“I don’t think it’ll take Manchester United 30 years to win the league again, but we’re still a few years behind the Liverpools and the Manchester Citys.
“Once you close the gap, things will change. Naturally things will change.
“But then the gap will change and some of the other teams that get involved in trying to win the Premier League.”
United are fighting for a Champions League berth rather than the league title right now, but there have been shoots of positivity during Solskjaer’s reign.
The way the Norwegian has brought on homegrown talent has been particularly impressive, with the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood impressing as well as England international Marcus Rashford.
“This has been Marcus’ best season,” Cole said. “I think Marcus has made his mind up now, that’s the best position for him.
“The young boy Greenwood, I think he’s got a great future. He’s got an unbelievable future in front of him.
“I’m always going to look at the boys up front because that’s the way I watch football. I watch football by watching the boys up front, their movement and how they try to get themselves in positions to score goals.
“I think those boys are definitely boys for the future. More so Mason because Marcus has been around for a few years now. He’s just got to fulfil his potential.”
Cole currently works as forward coach for Southend in addition to his ambassadorial role with United, three years on from undergoing a life-saving kidney transplant.
“I work with it,” he said of his health. “There’s good, there’s bad, there’s indifferent.
“There’s some days that I can’t have it and there’s other days where I’m turning around and saying to myself ‘yeah, it’s half decent today’.
“But it is what it is. I try my best not to dwell on it too much because I know I’ve got to live with it for the rest of my life.
“I think that’s the toughest thing at times, knowing that I was super fit and then knowing that I am no longer super fit.
“And knowing that there’s only certain things that I can do, and there’s only certain things that I can get away with and all those kind of things.
“It becomes frustrating at times but I’m still here. I’m still here.
“My daughter kept telling me I was going to live to 100. I kept saying to her ‘if dad gets to 50, he’ll be more than happy!’ Let’s see how things go.”
:: Andy Cole was speaking on the Counter Attack podcast, which you can watch at youtu.be/_tLNJ1vO_Ic