Andy Cole speaks to GiveMeSport: How Manchester United get back to the top

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For everyone connected with Manchester United, this season has been a frustrating watch at times. 

The Red Devils currently sit eighth in the table but have not given up hope of a late push for the Champions League spots, with those around them continuing to falter. 

GIVEMESPORT caught up with Andy Cole, who was speaking from Marriott Hotels Seat of Dreams at Old Trafford, about United's campaign. 

First and foremost, Cole admits he is "not enjoying it" seeing some of their struggles. 

"I'd be lying if I said I was and I'm not going to lie. It's frustrating because as a Manchester United player and a fan you want to be winning everything" he said. 

"This will be what the manager is telling the players and that's what they will be working towards.

"We’ve had progress. Just when you think they’re on a run, they’ve had disappointing results.

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"At the start of the season, the aim would have been top four but there are quite a few teams now going for that. If Manchester United could go on a good run and make the top four, that would go down as a good season."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 

Like all who shared a dressing room with him, Cole is watching on with intrigue as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is tasked with revitalising the club's fortunes. 

However, asked if his former teammate initially showed signs of being a future United manager, he admits: 

"No. To be honest, no, but there’s quite a few players I played with who I wouldn’t have expected to go into management - but that’s how football changes people.

"He’s got the opportunity, he’s giving it a real good go. He’s not the only one who’s struggled since coming in. If a next manager came in, if that did happen, they’d struggle too.

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"Ultimately football is about getting results, it becomes difficult for any manager if you’re not getting them.

How do United get back to the top? 

"I keep saying, we need to get back to what Manchester United is about. Manchester United is about attractive football, we haven’t been fortunate enough to have that since Sir Alex retired. Attractive football, galvanising, bums on seats, getting the punters inspired.

"If that’s with Ole, he needs a bit of time. We’ve not had it consistently. He (Ole) knows this culture and is working to instill this with his team. There are times we have seen this and it is finding that consistency.

"Manchester United is about football – win matches, playing the attractive way, we have to get back to that. It breeds confidence, if you go on a good run, all top teams do play good football."

Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer's task now is to re-capture the essence of what made United so successful under Ferguson - and particularly the treble-winners of 1999, a feat that may never be repeated even by the likes of the current Liverpool side. 

Ferguson has said publicly that it would be almost impossible for a team now to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup all in one season and Cole agrees. 

"No [it couldn't be repeated], I don’t believe so," he said.

"Nowadays, a team has a good run people start taking like they should win the treble. It takes a little bit of luck, you need that in football, but we beat the best teams to get to the Champions League final.

"In the league, Arsenal pushed us all the way but we were the best team over 38 games. We beat the best teams to get to the FA Cup final and we beat Newcastle comfortably, but that happens sometimes in football."

United's squad of '99 was so special, in fact, that it makes picking one standout player impossible. 

"You’ve all got to play a part. Football’s not an individual sport, there’s no ‘I’ in team," Cole adds.

"We all played a part. For the reunion game, the manager sat us down and gave us a speech and said every player, we all played a part."

United's new signings 

A generation on and youngsters who grew up watching Cole's partnership with Dwight Yorke are now playing themselves - newest signing Odion Ighalo among them. 

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"I hope he does fit in. Only time will tell. It’s going to take time," Cole said.

"He needs to get used to the Premier League again, he’s been away. He’s got the opportunity, he’s a big United fan. He has the experience of playing in the Premier League, he did well at Watford and hopefully will for us."

United fans have been thoroughly impressed by footage of Ighalo's preparations over the winter break, though in some quarters it was questioned why a new striker didn't come in until Deadline Day.

Did that suggest United didn't have a plan after allowing Romelu Lukaku to join Inter Milan in the summer?

"They couldn’t have expected Marcus [Rashford] to get a stress fracture of the back. 

"It was forced upon them. They couldn’t plan. That is football!"

Ighalo is one of several current United players to get excited about. 

"[Mason] Greenwood, I’m excited about him," Cole adds.

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"Brandon Williams has done extremely well. The new signing, [Bruno] Fernandes. He looks a real good player. We just need that little bit of consistency going forward."

There are undeniably positive signs, but competing with the squads - and the pulling power - of both Liverpool and Manchester City is going to prove difficult.

'What have you won?' 

"If you stand still, you’re going to struggle. Nowadays, or even when I was playing, we always talk about as ex-pros, you want to go to a team if you’re a top player that’s competing for the league season in, season out.

"If you can’t offer me Champions League football and I’m at the peak of my powers, United are going to struggle."

The name 'Manchester United', as well as the financial incentives, are two such ways of bringing in top players, but a changing landscape now means other Premier League clubs are able to offer lucrative deals. 

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"Every team in the Premier League now can match an individual’s wage demands. It’s not about money, it’s about what you can offer winning things. 

"It's being part of a huge team like Manchester United and being able to make a difference and be a part of the club's story.

"It’s tough for these guys. You don’t want to retire and look back and people say ‘what have you won’ and you go ‘nothing’."

United's story this season is far from over. 

Marriott Hotels, Official Hotel Partner of Manchester United, is upgrading three fans at each home Premier League match to the Marriott Hotels #SeatOfDreams. Fans will watch the match from the best seats in the house at Old Trafford and be joined on the sofa by a Manchester United legend.

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