Manchester United 'lagging behind' and becoming like Liverpool of years ago, says Mike Phelan
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By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 14/12/18 2:45pm
Manchester United are "lagging behind" and heading in the direction "Liverpool went in years ago", says Mike Phelan.
Jose Mourinho's side are currently sixth in the Premier League table and trail leaders Liverpool by 16 points heading into Sunday's game at Anfield, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
United last won the title in 2013 and Phelan, who spent five years as assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson from 2008 to 2013, believes the club are struggling to progress.
"They haven't improved, it's as simple as that," Phelan told Sky Sports News.
"They haven't grasped the mantle and moved forward. They're still lagging behind and a lot of teams have caught them up.
"I think their selection of players and the direction they're going in has proved difficult for Manchester United. Others have overtaken them in that respect."
Mourinho has spent over £400m on new players since arriving at Old Trafford in 2016 and despite winning the League Cup and Europa League, United have struggled to maintain consistent results on the pitch.
In September, United reported record revenues of £590m and although the club has enjoyed success off the pitch, Phelan feels the decision-making process at Old Trafford is still a problem.
"Year on year Manchester United is always looking for the X Factor," the 56-year-old added.
"We can look at it two ways - what's happening on the football field and what's happening off the football field - and year on year they keep making exceptional returns on the business side, but on the field it hasn't been reflected.
"There's no shortage of investment into Manchester United. I think most people realistically could say the money is there to spend, but it's who you spend it on and what you are getting for the money.
"Decision making is always top of the tree when it comes to the big football clubs and where it takes you. Is it going to be a year, is it going to be two years, is it going to be three? It's progressing into five, six, maybe even seven. It's going in the direction that Liverpool went in years ago."
Phelan says it is still taking time to adjust to life after Sir Alex Ferguson but the former midfielder, who played 146 times for United from 1989 to 1994, believes the club need to work out the best way to move forward.
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"Everybody goes through a phase where other teams do better than you expect and if you don't go with that you fall behind," he added.
"Improving the players is one thing. Bringing players into Manchester United is another. With Sir Alex Ferguson it was always a case of we brought in the player but we made them better and that was the important thing.
"It was also important to bring them into what was a good team - a team that had the capabilities to be champions.
"They have certainly got some building work to do. When does it start, how does it start and who does it start with? That's three questions straight away."