Michael Owen names one signing Man Utd need to beat Man City, Arsenal to 2024 Premier League title

Pundit Michael Owen

Liverpool legend Michael Owen on punditry duties

Michael Owen has revealed why he is still not quite ready to believe that Manchester United have what it takes to win the Premier League title next season – but admits in Erik ten Hag they have the “right manager” to put them on the right path.

The Red Devils have improved dramatically under Ten Hag’s guidance this season. Inheriting a side that slumped to a sixth-placed finish last season, he has shaken the club up from the roots up. After moving on a series of players over the summer, the likes of Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were allowed to depart to make way for a new broom.

Indeed, the United boss was allowed to spend some £200m on new players during his first summer in charge. And while costly deals for Antony and Lisandro Martinez certainly raised some eyebrows, the results on the pitch have certainly vindicated his outlay.

As a result of their improvements, Manchester United have already got the Carabao Cup in the bag. And their trophy cabinet could be swelled further should they go on to win the FA Cup and Europa League.

Such has been their progress that some supporters are already dreaming of a potential title push next season.

Ten Hag will be granted more funds to strengthen his squad this coming summer. And if he gets his recruitment done as successfully as he did last time, there’s an growing belief that even higher standards can see them push for glory.

United are third in this season’s Premier League, some 15 points behind Arsenal albeit with a game in hand.

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Owen on why Man Utd will not challenge for Premier League title next season

However, Owen remains doubtful they can close the gap sufficiently. And he cites the fact that their playing squad is still not quite good enough to match the likes of Arsenal and Man City.

“Manchester United are doing very well at the moment,” he said. “But when I watch them, I still don’t think, ‘oh my word, Manchester United are back… They’re tearing teams apart and winning easily’.

“I’m still a fair way from being convinced that that’s going to happen. I think they’ve got the right manager in place. I think there’s a buzz about the club at the moment that they need, that every club needs.

“But I think the actual playing staff is still some way short of being… put it this way, if the league was restarting today, I wouldn’t have Manchester United as being challengers to Arsenal and Manchester City just yet.”

Indeed, Owen feels United must sign a new centre forward to have any chance next season. But even then he reckons their playing squad remains some way behind their rivals.

“I still think they need more in that squad. They’re desperate for a centre-forward. That is an absolute must for next season. I do think that Manchester United are still a few players short.

“I think their squad is getting better. As I say, Ten Hag is doing a very good job and he looks like he’s going to be the right man. But I do think they’re short on quality compared to the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City at the moment.”

Owen notes Ten Hag progress

Despite his prediction for next season, Owen believes Ten Hag deserves plenty of credit for their progress this season.

And finishing in the top four, as well as potentially adding another trophy to their haul represents a hugely-successful campaign.

Speaking to AceOdds, he was quick to hail the Ducthman’s job so far.

“If they finish in the top four, then I’d say it’s a massively successful season,” Owen added. “Let’s remember where Manchester United have been for the last decade since Sir Alex Ferguson left.

“Yes, there’s been one or two trophies, but it’s been a struggle the last few years. And I think winning a trophy and qualifying for the Champions League would be a giant step forward.

“I think it would be a huge success and at the moment it’s looking likely that they will finish in the top four. With the trophy already under their belt as well, it’s looking like a decent season.

“But obviously they’re Manchester United at the end of the day. They won’t settle for this but I’m sure the fans will have settled for it at the start of the season as a stepping stone to bigger things.”

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