Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United needs "two or three years" to return to the top of English football as the former Red Devils captain highlighted the models of Liverpool and Manchester City. Rooney enjoyed great success at Old Trafford, where he became the club's all-time leading goalscorer while winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League among other silverware.
The 34-year-old, who left the club in 2017 following 13 years in Manchester, was also part of the last United team to win the Premier League in 2012-13. Since then, United has struggled with only two runner-up finishes in the Premier League, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's fifth-placed side is 37 points adrift of runaway leader Liverpool this term.
Ahead of his United reunion as a player-coach with Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday, Rooney called for patience. "It is going to take time. It is going to take another two or three years, I believe. They need to bring some players, they need to get rid of some players," Rooney said, quoted in several British newspapers.
"It's not going to happen [as a quick fix]. They've tried that with Louis van Gaal, with Jose Mourinho. If you look at Liverpool and what they've done, and Man City, you're not going to buy a team to go and challenge with them. You see with Liverpool - they've built that team."
"Pep Guardiola has gradually brought more players in and his way of playing. So United have to be a bit patient and try and build a team that will be able to challenge those two. The Manchester United fans need to be a bit patient with what is going on."
United is three points adrift of Chelsea, which occupies the fourth and final Champions League spot after 28 rounds, ahead of Sunday's derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford.
- Rooney could become Man United manager, says Solskjaer -
Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes all-time leading goalscorer and former captain Rooney could manage the Red Devils in the future. Rooney will reunite with United when Derby welcomes Solskjaer's side to Pride Park in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
A five-time Premier League champion and Champions League winner before leaving United in 2017, Rooney joined Championship outfit Derby as a player-coach from MLS franchise DC United in January. "Yeah," Solskjaer replied when asked whether Rooney, 34, could be manager.
"It depends on how much you put into the job and how much you want it. It takes over your life but it's the second best after playing. I am sure there are many ex-players and managers who want my job."
Rooney tops United's scoring charts with 253 goals in 559 appearances for the Premier League giant. Since moving to Derby, ex-England captain and the country's all-time leading scorer Rooney has netted four goals across all competitions. Rooney has scored three goals and supplied two assists in the Championship for 13th-placed Derby.
Solskjaer's United, meanwhile, is fifth in the Premier League and three points behind Chelsea – which occupies the fourth and final Champions League spot.