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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes that Manchester United are not as well equipped as Chelsea and Manchester City to launch a Premier League title charge this season because of a lack of strength in depth.
United, who finished second in the Premier League table last season, 12 points behind title winners City, have focused on adding quality to their squad this summer, opposed to quantity.
The club has drafted in England winger Jadon Sancho in a £72.9million deal from Borussia Dortmund and are now on the cusp of landing Raphael Varane, with it hoped that the French centre-back will complete his switch to Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Although their arrivals at Old Trafford will significantly strengthen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad, Ferdinand believes it is squad depth that currently separates Chelsea and City from everyone else in the division.
“The difference between Chelsea and Manchester City compared with everyone else in the league is depth,” Ferdinand told his YouTube channel, FIVE. “You look at both of their B-teams, they’d compete in this league.
“If (Romelu) Lukaku, (Mason) Mount and (Kai) Havertz play as a front three (for Chelsea), the back-up front three is (Timo) Werner, (Christian) Pulisic and (Hakim) Ziyech.
“That’s just nuts. Liverpool don’t have that depth. Man United don’t have that depth. It’s crazy. That’s the difference.
“I just see those two teams being a step ahead at the moment – unless Man United come out of the blocks flying. But Man United will still be a threat. They’ll be up there.”
In truth, Solskjaer’s first-team squad is not light on options, with the United chief able to call upon no shortage of fringe players to plug gaps if his more senior stars pick up injuries or are forced to sit out matches due to suspension.
However, United are currently carrying a lot of dead wood and long-serving players who, in an ideal world, need moving on.
For instance, the likes of Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira are all long-serving players at Old Trafford but are unlikely to see an awful lot of match-action this season and be considered as suitable replacements for those they are challenging for a place in the team.
With that in mind, the squad could be United’s downfall, especially when comparing it to the options that Chelsea and City have when it comes to fielding such strong alternate line-ups.
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