Dimitar Berbatov thinks that Manchester United will continue to struggle to attract top players in their current situation and not even Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would be able to reverse their fortunes.
The Red Devils have slipped to fifth in the Premier League standings after 24 fixtures, 33 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool and six behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
United have been unable to string a significant run of wins together, and look destined to miss out on Champions League qualification for a second successive year unless they can rediscover a consistent streak.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been tipped to add to his squad in the January transfer window, with Sporting ace Bruno Fernandes mooted as a primary target.
United were thought to be closing in his signature, but Goal has reported that a deal has fallen through due to the Portuguese club’s reluctance to accept any offers below €80 million (£67m/$88m).
Berbatov believes Solskjaer is still the right man to take the club forward, but feels he will continue to struggle to find high-quality reinforcements during an ongoing transitional period.
“United have been sliding for a while and once you get like that it is difficult to stop,” the ex-United striker told Betfair. “Yes, they have won some trophies on the way but overall if you look you can clearly see that United are not where everybody wants them and expects them to be.
“It is easy to blame and point the finger but of course, there are a number of factors causing issues and stress in the team. Sometimes when you decline so much you lose games, the pressure builds, and you go on the pitch and you just don’t want the ball, and that is the worst thing a player can do.
“I think Ole is still the man to stop the decline, but they need to do business in the transfer market and buy some players now. The question is who do they go out and get and do the players even want to come to Old Trafford.
“The sad part is, United will now have to work hard to convince players to come. In the past, you only had to say the name ‘Manchester United’ and you were there asking where do you sign.
“If you asked a group of players now, out of Manchester United and other big teams where would they like to go, United would probably be the last place they’d want to go, which is really depressing, and it shows just how much they have declined.
“It is what it is and whoever is in charge of signing players needs to go and speak to people and do their best because if the slide continues then things will only get worse.”
Berbatov went on to insist that even if Fernandes did end up joining United, he is not a “magician” capable of turning the club’s fortunes around on his own.
He added: “I keep reading about Bruno Fernandes, he’s not a magician, do people really think if a player comes in the team are automatically going to start winning?
“He’s just one man, that’s not how it works, it’s a team game and you can’t expect just one person to come it and change things at United, even if it is Messi or Ronaldo.
“The situation they are in now need a team, they need that togetherness to get out of it all together, not just with one player.
“Sometimes, you have a good player that can get you out of trouble and win you a game but not in a situation like this, they need to stay together.”