Manchester United would be near the top of the Premier League if Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge, according to Arsenal hero Martin Keown.
Writing in his Tackle Keown column for the Daily Mail, the former Gunners star has insisted that Louis van Gaal is responsible for the club's current situation as they approach the latter stages of the season.
The Red Devils are out of both domestic cups and could fail to secure a place in next season's Champions League with a tricky run-in on the horizon.
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Keown believes Van Gaal has created his own environment at Old Trafford, suggesting that Ferguson, who achieved extraordinary success throughout his tenure as the club's boss, 'would squeeze every ounce out of his players'.
Keown stated: "I think Van Gaal is largely responsible for United’s situation at the moment though, not the players. Man management was Sir Alex Ferguson’s forte, and some players find it harder to cope than others.
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"Mangers have to work with players’ minds, bodies and hearts. And when all is not right in their mind they will react to everything. It feels like Van Gaal has created this environment. Fergie would squeeze every ounce out of his players.
"If he were still there, they wouldn’t be so far away from top of league."
Ultimately, though, life goes on, and United will be desperate to improve under the Dutch regime sooner rather than later. Qualification for Europe's elite competition is still in their hands, so they will be determined to make amends after Monday's disappointing FA Cup exit.
Next up for Van Gaal and Co. is a home clash with top-four rivals Spurs in what looks set to be a huge clash.
Must make Champions League
There's no underestimating just how crucial it is for the club to return to the Champions League at the first time of asking. After last season's dismal campaign under David Moyes, things have been better in terms of results, but the players have failed to produce on the performance side of things.
As Van Gaal goes in search of long term success on English soil, he will know all too well that he must deliver at least a top four finish. Despite the club set for a hard run of fixtures to come, they should still believe that they can produce the goods between now and the end of the season.
The likes of Wayne Rooney, Angel di Maria and Co., however, must step up and find their best form over the coming months.
Manchester United fans: Would your club be challenging for the title if Ferguson was still in charge? Have your say in the comments section below!
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