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Thursday, January 21, 2021

‘Man Utd nowhere near Man City & Liverpool’

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The Welshman thinks the Red Devils’ rebuilding job has only just begun and claims there remains a “big gap” between the top two and the rest

Manchester United are still “nowhere near” Manchester City and Liverpool, according to Craig Bellamy, who thinks it could be another “three of four years” before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side challenge for the title.

United haven’t won the Premier League since 2013, with the departure of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson marking the beginning of a frustrating new era of mediocrity at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer took over in December 2018 after Jose Mourinho’s dismissal, and has since attempted to restore the club’s core values on and off the pitch – with mixed results.

The Red Devils finished sixth in the top flight last season, while also extending their trophyless run across all competitions to two years.

The first half of the 2019-20 campaign was equally underwhelming, but performances have improved since the turn of the year, with January arrivals Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo helping to lift the mood around the club.

An 11-match unbeaten run before the coronavirus outbreak stopped play in March relieved pressure on Solskjaer, and it has been suggested that United are now on the right path to a revival of the glory days.

However, Bellamy says there is still a “big gap” between United and the Premier League’s top two sides, who are both considered to be streaks ahead when it comes to “intensity” levels on the pitch.

“Coronavirus hit, and it seemed to be quite a good time at Manchester United, everyone is talking about Manchester United, but they are nowhere near these two clubs,” the former City and Liverpool forward told Sky Sports.

“Nowhere near. And it’s going to take a good three or four years to get near.

“The balance [City and Liverpool] have in the team, the way they play, the intensity they play at, the pressing and understanding of what they’re doing, takes them well ahead. These two teams are a big gap ahead of anyone else.”

Liverpool’s 30-year wait for domestic glory looks destined to come to an end when the season resumes, as they sit 25 points clear of reigning champions City with only nine fixtures left to play.

Bellamy believes Pep Guardiola’s men have missed Leroy Sane, who has been absent for the entire campaign through injury.

He added: “The one player I think Manchester City has missed so much is Leroy Sane. Just for the balance of the team, not just his pace, but don’t underestimate his pressing, how good he is at that.

“He’s been a big, big miss this season.”

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