Man Utd still at least a 'year or two' away from competing with Liverpool & Man City, says Keane

Goal.com

Manchester United are still a "year or two" away from competing with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title, says Roy Keane.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first year in permanent charge of United's senior squad has been a turbulent one, to say the least.

The Norwegian was awarded a three-year contract in March 2019 after an impressive interim spell, but his honeymoon period ended as the Red Devils slipped to a sixth-place finish in the top flight last season.

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United forked out a combined £145 million ($179m) on Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire last summer as Solskjaer's squad rebuild began in earnest, but familiar struggles for consistency resurfaced in the first half of the new season.

Results have only started to improve noticeably since the January arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting, who has justified his £50m ($62m) transfer fee by contributing four goals and four assists in his first 12 appearances for the club.

The Portuguese has inspired his new team-mates to raise their game, culminating in a 14-match unbeaten run across all competitions, which continued as United booked a spot in the semi-finals of the FA Cup by beating Norwich 2-1 on Saturday.

Solskjaer's men are also still in the hunt for Europa League glory, however Keane is more concerned by the fact his old club are currently sitting a staggering 37 points behind newly-crowned Premier League champions Liverpool.

City are also well clear of their local rivals, and the United legend cannot see the gap being closed next season.

"They're a few players off yet," Keane told the Irish Independent. "They have obviously strengthened but the league table doesn't lie. Look at their points total.

"I know people say they've had one or two decent results - against Man City and Liverpool - but it's all about the points.

"So, no, I don't see United competing in the next year or two for the league.

"I think there's going to be improvement and they will close the gap, but there is a bit of work to be done for Ole and the players. They're missing something.

"They haven't been consistent enough."

The former Red Devils midfielder went on to suggest that more defensive reinforcements will be needed if Solskjaer's side are to make the "leap" from top-four challengers to title winners.

"People have analysed it and said United's strength at the moment is on the counter-attack. But the problem has been when they had a lot of possession; breaking teams down," Keane added.

"With one or two players coming back, United will certainly be pushing to get that fourth position but trying to get fourth and winning the league is a big leap.

"They need one or two players. I think United are short at the back."

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