Andy Cole has dismissed suggestions Manchester United could mount a Premier League title challenge this season, despite having a golden chance to move near the summit.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side face Sheffield United on Thursday evening at Bramall Lane, chasing their tenth consecutive away league victory.
The Blades are without a league win all season and United can move within five points from leaders Liverpool with a game in hand if they secure another win on the road.
However, despite increasing optimism from some sections of the fanbase, the defeat to RB Leipzig that resulted in the damaging Champions League exit gave the Reds their latest harsh reality check.
It’s important to temper expectations after another start to season under Solskjaer fraught with inconsistencies.
And United great Cole believes Solskjaer has to concentrate on steering the club back to regular Champions League qualification.
“I still think the club are a few years away from realistically competing to win the Premier League.
“I think the priority for Manchester United at the moment is to qualify for the Champions League and to hope to have a good cup run in a domestic competition.
“The pressure really is on for Manchester United to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League on a consistent basis again, which is maybe hard to say after the years of success with Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Qualifying for the Champions League has to become the norm and the minimal expectation again before the club can move forwards.”
The bizarre nature of the first few months of the campaign where no team has hit their best form have prompted whispers that a title challenge could be possible if United can go on a winning run under Solskjaer.
Ultimately, however, the Norwegian boss does not yet have the foundations at Old Trafford for a title winning challenge.
Vast improvements are needed both on the pitch and off it before the club are to realistically dominate domestically again.