Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United are only one or two signings away from challenging for the Premier League title next season, despite the fact they finished a whopping 17 points behind newly crowned champions Chelsea in 2014/15.
The Red Devils captain has backed himself and his team-mates to close the gap on Jose Mourinho's men and fight for top domestic honours next term, providing the club can successfully negotiate a couple more deals during the summer transfer window.
Rooney pointed to the team's impressive run of form between November and January as reason to suggest that Louis van Gaal's side are on the cusp of something special, but warned they cannot afford to start 2015/16 as sluggishly as this season or else they will face another impossible task.
Considering how poorly Manchester United began this campaign the 29-year-old feels the squad deserves credit for securing a place in the top four and qualifying for next year's Champions League, which was the target set out by the veteran Dutch coach when he first arrived at Old Trafford last summer.
And, in an exclusive interview with former team-mate turned Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, Rooney outlined the future ambition that is sure to excite Red Devils supporters that are already eagerly awaiting the start of the new season.
"I believe we are [close to challenging for the title]," he said. "You take the first 10, 11 games and I think we had 13 points. When you consider from after that amount of games to where we've finished, we've probably got as many points after that as anyone else.
"I think we're close, there's no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we're outplaying teams, dominating possession, and it's just that final thing of taking our chances.
"In the Chelsea game, if I had scored that with my left foot then it could have been a completely different game and might have put them under a bit of pressure – it might have been a lot closer than it's finished.
"As a group of players, myself and the manager – we all believe we're close and I'm sure with a player or two in the summer we'll have a good chance of going for the title."
Asked whether a club as illustrious as Manchester United should be aiming higher than simply getting in the top four, Rooney defended the altered expectations due to the major changes that have taken place at the Theatre of Dreams since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.
"Obviously there was change of manager, change of coaches, a lot of new players coming in – realistically we knew it was going to be a tough ask for us to go and win the Premier League," he explained.
"The least we wanted was a top-four finish because, after last season, for this football club it would've been a disaster if we didn't make the top four.
"That's the plus we can take. It would have been nice to win some silverware – that's why the Arsenal defeat in the [FA] Cup was so disappointing – but in terms of the Premier League the most vital thing for us was getting in the top four."
Manchester United fans: Do you agree with Wayne Rooney that a Premier League title challenge is realistic next season with one or two more quality signings? Who would you like to see arrive at Old Trafford? Have your say below…
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