Cole won the Premier League title five times with Manchester United from 1996-2001.
He scored 93 goals in his 195 appearances in what was a golden era at Old Trafford, helping Alex Ferguson's side lift the Champions League trophy in 1999.
However, he believes that United will have to wait a while before they can compete at the top of the league again.
"I genuinely believe we're still a few years away," Cole told Sky Sports.
"We've just got to keep improving, keep bringing in better players and just try and improve season by season, because the two teams at the top - Liverpool and Manchester City - they're pulling away from everyone."
Cole imparted some of his own knowledge, however, drawing on his experience of being the chased rather than chasers.
"I was in a team at Manchester United where we were doing exactly the same thing and in the end, everyone else closed the gap," he said.
"It's a case of just keep persevering, keep improving season by season and closing the gap."
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