Tom Cleverley thinks Manchester United have never been further away from winning the Premier League than they are right now under Erik ten Hag.
United have started the season poorly, losing three of their opening six Premier League fixtures.
After consecutive defeats at the hands of Arsenal and Brighton, the Red Devils bounced back with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday evening.
Treble winners Manchester City are already nine points clear of Ten Hag’s side, which is a difficult position to be in, even if 32 games are remaining.
Ten Hag has been under quite a lot of pressure this term despite finishing third in the league and winning the Carabao Cup last season.
Many have questioned whether or not he is the right man for the job, but people with half a brain can easily see he is not the problem at what is a club in disarray from top to bottom.
It is a difficult spell for the Dutch manager and things are so poor in the opinion of former United midfielder Cleverley that the Red Devils have never been further away from winning the Premier League than at any point in their history.
Cleverley believes the emergence of teams outside of the ‘big six’ is a reason why winning the title will be “very difficult” under Ten Hag.
He told Sky Sports: “I like to be optimistic but you have to be realistic and I don’t think they’ve ever been further away, to be honest.
“The strength of the other teams, not only do you have your usual competitors but you’ve got the introduction of Aston Villa, Brighton and Newcastle so it’s going to be very, very difficult.
“I hope I’m wrong. I hope they can have a good run in the Champions League but as far as domestically in the league, it’s a massive, massive task and I think you have to be realistic about that.”
Cleverley added that he found it testing to deal with the pressure of playing at Old Trafford.
“I struggled with it,” he said. “I think at times like that you’ve just have to look in the mirror [and ask yourself], ‘Am I doing everything right to prepare and perform?’
“I think that the support networks for players were a little bit less back then it was a bit more of fending for yourself which I tried to do and I struggled a little bit.
“That’s why you have really got to take your hat off to these players who can come through these slumps in form at the biggest of clubs.
“I’m thinking [Bukayo] Saka after the Euros, [Raheem] Sterling’s had periods and always ended back at the top and John Stones had a season where people doubted him and he’s one of the best defenders in the world.
“So you’ve got to take your hat off to these players that are resilient enough to be at the top for 10 to 15 years because there’s always going to be dips in form that you have to mentally deal with.”