Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Louis van Gaal to turn Manchester United into world-beaters again.
Van Gaal was handed the task of bringing the glory days back to Old Trafford following the failed reign of David Moyes, who replaced Ferguson when his successful 26-year tenure came to an end in May 2013.
Van Gaal spent over £150million on six new signings in the summer, but after 17 games United are third and trail Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea by 10 points.
Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao, along with several of their new team-mates, have all suffered injuries since moving to Old Trafford though, thus limiting their impact.
The Manchester United players at risk of the axe
The Manchester United players at risk of the axe
1/7 Phil Jones/Jonny Evans/Chris Smalling
New centre-backs are at the top of Louis van Gaal's wish list. That's mainly due to the fact his main options have failed thus far to make a strong claim. At least one of the current trio at the back could well be shown the exit if the manager lands his targets.
2/7 Tom Cleverley
The England midfielder was allowed to go out on loan to Aston Villa and with comments since about the 'negativity' surrounding Old Trafford, seems unlikely to ever return.
3/7 Luis Nani
Nani - a byword for inconsistency during his time at Manchester United - has been rather impressive since joining Sporting Lisbon on loan. Despite that, it's expected he'll be sold, with United seeking to claim back a healthy chunk of the £20m-plus they bought him for.
4/7 Javier Hernandez
Having at one time appeared to be the natural heir to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Hernandez's time at United soured and Van Gaal wasn't overly impressed at what he saw following his arrival at Old Trafford. The Mexican was allowed to go on loan to Real Madrid where he's bagged a few goals. Wants first-team football and United might not be able to provide it.
5/7 Wilfried Zaha
Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson, snubbed and then sent on loan by David Moyes and sent out again by Louis van Gaal, it appears Zaha has no future at Old Trafford. Crystal Palace, his former club and where he's currently playing on loan, could be his destination.
6/7 Ashley Young
The England international has struggled for a consistent run in the side and the arrival of Angel Di Maria will ensure opportunities are severely limited going forward. With Luke Shaw also at Van Gaal's disposal on the left, even the former Aston Villa player's versatility might not be able to save him.
Went on a loan spell to Fiorentina last season, but to the surprise of many returned to the club and remains there. Has only played twice under Van Gaal, suggesting the Brazilian has no future at Old Trafford.
But once Van Gaal has a full compliment of players to choose from, the Dutchman will make United a real force to be reckoned with, according to Ferguson, who won 38 trophies during his reign at Old Trafford.
"I don't know how Louis van Gaal can expect to get the best results with the injuries he's had," Ferguson told BT Sport.
"When he gets the best players back, you watch United go - because he's a great coach, he will do well.
"They have still got great players.
"I'm not interested with what is happening with the players he's brought in, as that will take time.
"When I brought in Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic in the January of the same year, they were all over the place. They took five months to get used to playing for Manchester United - the culture and the history of the club.
"And these new players will be exactly same."
Michael Carrick also suffered a serious ankle injury in pre-season, but he is now fit again.
The 33-year-old has been key to United's recent upturn in form. Since he returned to the starting XI seven games ago, United have dropped just two points.
Ferguson, who signed Carrick from Tottenham in 2006, lavished praise on the player.
"I think Michael's the best central midfielder in English football," he said.
"I think he's the best English player in the game."
Robin van Persie has recovered from a dip in form at the start of the campaign to score three goals in his last three matches.
Ferguson believes Van Persie, and fellow forward Wayne Rooney, will be key players in United's push for a top-four finish in the new year.
Ferguson added: "The World Cup has maybe taken a little bit out of Robin van Persie, but you watch him in the second half of the season. He will be fine.
"Rooney is back flying and he will always get you a goal. Having a goalscorer in your team is always an advantage."
Ferguson has also been highly impressed by the form of goalkeeper David de Gea, who has won United many points this term with a series of outstanding saves.
"The one that is most pleasing to me of the present lot is David de Gea," said Ferguson of the Spaniard, who made a number of costly errors after he signed for United in 2011 from Atletico Madrid.
"When we bought him as a kid he was really skinny but he had ability.
"He has special talents and he is showing that now and I'm really pleased for that kid."
Chelsea, and second-placed Manchester City, seem a cut above United this season.
Jose Mourinho's men have lost just once and only failed to win at Old Trafford in October because of Van Persie's late equaliser.
Mourinho was tipped as a potential successor to Ferguson, but the former Aberdeen boss selected Moyes instead - a move that backfired terribly and the former Everton boss was sacked after 10 months.
Ferguson still has a deep admiration for the Portuguese, especially because of the way he learned from the likes of Van Gaal and Sir Bobby Robson during the early stages of his career.
"It's unfair really because he's good looking. He has that George Clooney look about him with the white bits in his hair," Ferguson said with a chuckle.
"But he is a great example. He can speak five languages... he goes and works with Bobby Robson, follows him to Barcelona, works there under Louis van Gaal.
"Then goes to a small team in Portugal (Uniao de Leiria), then to Porto, wins the league, wins the UEFA Cup, wins the European Cup, goes to Chelsea, wins the league twice in a row, then goes to Inter Milan... that's an example to anyone who wants to do well - you shouldn't let the barriers be in your way if you want to get there.
"He never played the game, but he had the determination to be a coach."
‘Sir Alex Ferguson was speaking to Clare Balding as part of a BT Sport Christmas Day double-bill of ‘Clare Balding Meets’ which features exclusive interviews with Sir Alex and Jose Mourinho. Watch the full interviews on BT Sport 1 from 3.30pm on December 25.’
- More about:
- Manchester United