Former Manchester United winger Lee Sharpe believes that his old club needs to go out and spend on world-class players if they are bent on returning to the dominant force they once were.
The Red Devils are currently sat in fourth spot in the English Premier League and have just won twice in their last five league games.
They also trail league-leaders Chelsea by 12 points, and have been linked with several big name signings such as Gareth Bale, Paul Pogba, Mat Hummels and Aymeric Laporte in the current mid-season transfer window.
United have also spent more than 200 million pounds combined in the previous three transfer windows since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Such staggering figures appear to be a shift in philosophy at Old Trafford, where bringing through products from the academy with the occasional big name signing was the norm until now.
Sharpe, who made 193 appearances for United, agrees with the spending, but insisted that the philosophy of promoting youths still remains in the club.
“I think that (the spending) was always going to happen at United especially with a new manager,” Sharpe told FourFourTwo.
“The team is not playing great and not settled at the top of the league. It’s not strong enough to challenge for the title. I think they have already proved halfway through the season having not played well at all. But they are sat in fourth position and they can still challenge for a Champions’ League spot.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t sign anyone in the window, but I’m certainly sure they will sign a few in the summer.
“But he’s also been bringing through young players like (Tyler) Blackett, (Patrick) McNair, and (James) Wilson has played as well. But I also think if you are going to play in the Champions’ League next season then you are going to have to bring in Champions’ league quality players.
“Young lads will always come through at United, it’s just the philosophy of the club – they always bring players through.
“But you have to bring in more class players if you want to compete in world class teams.”
Sharpe also likened the current United team to the period in the late 80s when Ferguson first took over at the Theatre of Dreams, when the team struggled to win trophies until the 1990 FA Cup triumph sparked an unprecedented years of dominance.
He believes that winning the same competition this season will allow United to gain impetus and push on to regain supremacy.
“The only thing that can take you onto the next level is success itself,” Sharpe said.
“A lucky cup run got us the FA Cup. It got us into the European Cup winners’ cup and it was our first time back into Europe, which gave the team and the club the confidence.
“Other players came in knowing the team can be successful and it just rolled on like that.
“So I think getting a little bit of success this year and qualifying for Europe will allow stronger players to come in next season and the momentum will just keep growing and I think that’s how it works.
“It will be a great start. If they can have a strong second half of the season – they have not played particularly great in the first half – and go on to win the FA cup and finish third or fourth then it’s a very successful season for him (Louis Van Gaal).”
Lee Sharpe is playing for the CLA All-Stars in the SCC International Soccer Sixes tournament in Singapore. The knockout rounds will be played on 31 January, Sunday at the Padang.
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments