Manchester United’s woes are in part down to a lack of ‘strong characters’, according to former Red Devils stopper Edwin van der Sar.
United are currently in the midst of a crisis, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer overseeing the club’s fourth-worst start to a season.
Since the Norwegian was appointed as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor in March, the Red Devils have only won five of their last 21 matches.
United have lost nine of those fixtures, with their most recent defeat coming at the hands of Newcastle United last Sunday.
Van der Sar has been shocked by his old side’s decline, which he partly attributes to a lack of leaders in the team.
“I think for ourselves, when I came in the dressing room we had Ryan Giggs, you had [Paul] Scholes, you had [Rio] Ferdinand, [Gary] Neville and even Roy Keane at that time,” Van der Sar told ESPN FC.
“So I think there’s always been strong characters.
“And I think for the last couple of years the strong characters have disappeared and not making a difference anymore.
“I left there eight years ago and it was a tremendous last six years of my career, winning four Premier League titles and playing in three Champions League finals.
“So it’s a long way from the position where they are in now.
“And of course they have changed managers a couple times now and the real progress is not seen yet, only the thing that they bought in the summer.
“They bought younger, inexperienced players with a certain desire and hunger, and not like the big names they bought the last six, seven years.”
Although United haven’t struggled to bring in big-name players in recent seasons, Van der Sar believes their lack of success on the pitch could lead to future difficulties in that department.
He added: “Of course, the name is there. And of course the following they have all over the world.
“But for a player … you want to play at a certain level, you also want to have an idea that you can win trophies and they must take that opportunity also to improve the squad and make the world-class players they have, or the players that they’re going to sign, that they feel welcome and that there’s a good path to where they’re going to go to.”
United will look to get back to winning ways a week on Sunday when they welcome runaway league leaders Liverpool to Old Trafford.