Paul Scholes believes Manchester United need "four of five transfer windows" before they can start challenging for the title again and insists ‘alarm bells have rang’ ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club.
The Red Devils take on fierce rivals Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, although very few are giving United a chance of getting anything out of the game against the unbeaten Premier League leaders.
It’s been a long and painful fall from grace for the 20-time champions and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had to defend the work going on behind the scenes this week.
However, Scholes believes United have struggled under the new regime that have worked their way through four managers in just six years.
“When you look five or six years ago when Sir Alex Ferguson left, the only person that’s probably going to get the credit he deserved was David Gill [former chief executive]. He was a football man.
“From the day he went, as well as Sir Alex, it’s been difficult,” Scholes told Robbie Savage's Premier League Breakfast on BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday morning.
“I think there were alarm bells straightaway really when David [Moyes] took over and he signed Juan Mata and Fellaini for something like £70m. They’re good players in their own right, but I don’t think they were Manchester United players.
“I don’t think Sir Alex or David Gill would have signed those types of players, so I think from then on, alarm bells have rang and we’re in the position we are now because of buying players who we don’t really think are Man Utd players. Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer]’s come in and he’s got the opportunity to put that right.”
Summer signings Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have all impressed for spells though United sit 12th in the table with just two wins from eight as they continue to stutter.
Scholes, who enjoyed 19 trophy-laden seasons at United, which included lifting Champions League trophy twice, doesn’t see a quick fix but believes Solskjaer has a big rebuilding job on his hands and is the right man to see it through.
“I think four or five transfer windows, and they have to be good transfer windows,” he said when asked how long it will take for United to back challenging for the top spot.
“I think Ole’s new signings have been very good, very promising and as long as he is the manager in charge of the players coming in, then I don’t see a problem.”
Looking to Sunday’s opponents, the Reds have won every domestic game this campaign and top the league, eight points ahead of second-placed Manchester City.
However, Scholes believes Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp still trails Pep Guardiola on the touchline.
“Klopp's a great manager, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “The football they’re playing and the style of play is magnificent, but I’d still go for Guardiola after what he’s done.
“I’d have Guardiola as number one and Jurgen Klopp as a very close number two.”
After Sunday’s giant clash, United take on Partizan Belgrade in the Europe League on Thursday before they return to Premier League action at Norwich.