Rio Ferdinand fears Manchester United face a title drought on the scale of rivals Liverpool if they fail to get their next managerial appointment right.
Former England defender Ferdinand won six Premier League crowns during his time at Old Trafford, although they languished down in seventh place during his final season with the club amid David Moyes' ill-fated spell as Alex Ferguson's successor.
Louis van Gaal guided United back to the Champions League last season, but they were eliminated in the group stages of Europe's top competition and lie 12 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City in fifth after being pegged back to a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Sunday.
Liverpool won the last of their 18 English title triumphs in 1989-90 before Ferguson ushered in United's period of dominance.
It is something Van Gaal has rarely appeared ready to replicate and the Dutchman's standing with sections of the United fanbase has fallen considerably this season.
Manchester City's announcement that Pep Guardiola will manage them from 2016-17 has increased the clamour in some quarters for United to make their move for Jose Mourinho, reprising the duo's Clasico battles from when they helmed Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Ferdinand sees merit in United promoting from within and handing club icon Ryan Giggs the opportunity to take on the post he briefly held following Moyes demise, should Van Gaal be moved along.
"I think if they bring someone else in, it is a huge decision because if this doesn't go right, it could be a long cycle," Ferdinand told Network 1 Media
"We don't want to be a repeat of what Liverpool have gone through. Manchester United don't want that long time in the wilderness of not really winning or being successful and not challenging for titles.
"That can't afford to happen at Man United. The problem they've got now is who they choose.
"Are they going to go for someone who has had success, who knows how to manage teams like Jose Mourinho or will they go with someone who is already in the house like Ryan Giggs.
"That's the problem they have got and the questions that have to be asked. If I knew the answer to that question, I would be the CEO."
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