Micah Richards feels Manchester United must sort out their defensive midfield issues if they are to challenge for the Premier League title once again.
The Red Devils have not lifted the trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge of the club. The likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have all failed to win the league. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is struggling to keep pace with their rivals.
Summer recruitment was positive, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s return the standout signing. The Portugal skipper has been superb but United have been heavily criticised for their disjointed displays.
They had been getting by on individual brilliance but Liverpool exposed a lack of tactical acumen at Old Trafford. Jurgen Klopp’s men put five unanswered goals past the hosts and the knives were out for the boss.
Manchester City are now the dominant club in the city, with four titles since Ferguson retired. And Richards, a Premier League winner with the Citizens, believes the gulf between the two sides is huge.
“Since 2011 it has been a massive shift,” he told Sky Sports. “Look at the consistency City have had.
“People will talk about not winning the Champions League but we won the Premier League under Roberto Mancini against Sir Alex Ferguson, and then Manuel Pellegrini comes in and wins it, and then Pep Guardiola has taken us to the next level in terms of performance, consistency, breaking record points totals.”
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But many pundits have questioned the balance of the side, with the defence exposed by a lack of midfield cover. That was the case against Liverpool as the game resembled men against boys.
Richards agrees that changes need to be made to the holding midfield personnel. But the former full-back does not feel City’s great rivals are a million miles away.
“I still think they’re a little bit light in that defensive midfield area. I really do like Scott McTominay but I think too much pressure has been put on him in terms of their stature and where the club wants to go,” he added.
“Fred is hot and cold, some days he has unbelievable games and then you watch him and he makes basic mistakes.
“If they want to truly challenge for that title and mix it with the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool, then they’re going to have to sort out that area.
“Once they’ve done that I think they can compete with the best.”