Manchester United are not “far inferior” to Liverpool, says Michael Owen, but there is a big rebuilding job to oversee at Old Trafford following an alarming period of “decline”.
Former Red Devils striker Owen believes there is, and has been, enough quality on the books at the Theatre of Dreams to prevent such regression.
It is the opinion of the ex-England striker that current coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the ability and potential at his disposal to rival much of that on offer to Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.
In the eyes of Owen, the main difference between those in Manchester and those on Merseyside is one of competent leadership, rather than personnel.
He told ESPN: “I don't necessarily think the players are all that bad [at United].
“I think when you look at other teams, look at Liverpool for example, are Manchester United players far inferior to Liverpool's? I don't necessarily think so.
“But do Liverpool's players play with a greater understanding, a great cohesion, a lot of confidence? Then, yes.
“I was talking to John Barnes the other day and he was saying the exact same thing. He doesn't think there's anything between the two squads.”
While seeing the potential at Old Trafford, Owen admits that there are still serious issues to address in a period of instability which stretches back to the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
He added: “When you look at the players, Manchester United have got great players but managers don't seem to be getting that tune out of them like the Pep Guardiola teams or like the Jurgen Klopp teams at the moment.
“A lot of people will say when you have a manager that is there for that long then it's very difficult for the next manager just to go and pick up the baton.
“Not many people would have envisaged the extent, let's say, of the decline since.
“There's been some trophies won along the way which has smoothed things over a little bit but in general, when you watch Manchester United now, it is a shadow of the previous teams of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign I guess, and it's going to take some building.”
Solskjaer is currently charged with that task, but he saw his side stumble over the line in 2018-19 and has only collected five points from United’s opening four games in the Premier League this season.