Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke says it will be ‘two to three years’ until the club is back at the top

Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke has welcomed British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s investment into the club, saying that the new co-owner can restore the European powerhouse to its glory years.

Yorke concedes, however, that for the time being the Red Devils will not be able to compete for the English Premier League title.

Speaking to CNN Senior Sports Analyst Darren Lewis, the former United striker said that Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men who has recently acquired a 25% stake in the club, “wants to get Manchester United back, certainly at the top of the tree.”

Yorke added: “There is so much negativity that is coming out of the football club that it seems to manifest itself on the football pitch.

“And I think, with Sir [Jim] Ratcliffe being there, it will give us that energy and an impetus to go forward. I really do believe instead of many years to get to the top, it will be a matter of maybe two to three years before we get back to where it was.”

Yorke scored 66 goals in 152 games for United and was a key part of Alex Ferguson’s squad that won the the mythical treble – the English Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League – in 1999. Yorke would go on to win a further two Premier Leagues with the Red Devils before leaving the club in the summer of 2002.

Jim Ratcliffe has recently bought a stake in Manchester United. - Peter Byrne/PA/AP
Jim Ratcliffe has recently bought a stake in Manchester United. - Peter Byrne/PA/AP

However, the club has struggled under a series of managers since Ferguson’s departure almost 11 years ago and is currently sixth in the Premier League under Erik ten Hag.

The 52-year-old Yorke is under no illusions about the mountain of work that awaits Ratcliffe at Old Trafford, particularly concerning the lack of recent silverware.

“We are some way off the pace, and I think for me that’s where I’m disappointed,” he said.

“We really should be in the [Premier League] top four relatively comfortably, and it hasn’t been that easy a ride for us. It’s always been an uphill battle and I know that the current manager, he’s doing his best.

“He had an outstanding season last year, and I thought this was going to be the time that United would be able to kick on. It hasn’t really materialized.

“We are playing for fourth spot, not even third or second. We are playing for fourth spot at this stage.”

Up next for United is a hugely important league game against rival Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, an opportunity to close the gap on fifth-placed Tottenham in the table – and damage City’s chances at a fourth consecutive Premier League.

But Yorke just can’t see anything but a victory for the Citizens: “City look obviously odds-on favorite going into this game and I expect them to get a result. I’d be very happy to get a point in the game.”

United had been on a run of five straight wins prior to a 2-1 home defeat against Fulham last weekend, though a midweek FA Cup victory against Nottingham Forest went some way towards atoning for that loss.

“The Fulham game is a real setback, in my opinion,” said Yorke.

“Going into the derby, obviously with City really in terrific form and having their key players back, I feel playing away from home is always going to be a struggle.

“I’m very optimistic. I’m a Red through-and-through, and I want to see United back to where they belong. But I do believe that they will come off second best in this game. I just can’t see City losing any more ground to the [league] leaders, Liverpool.”

One of City’s key weapons is Norway’s imposing striker Erling Haaland. He’s scored 17 goals in the league this season and earlier this week fired five past Luton Town during City’s 6-2 FA Cup win.

Haaland runs with the ball against Bournemouth on February 24. - Clive Rose/Getty Images
Haaland runs with the ball against Bournemouth on February 24. - Clive Rose/Getty Images

Yorke believes the only thing that could stop Haaland being the greatest Premier League goalscorer of all time would be a move away from England.

Former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer tops the list with 260 goals, ahead of Harry Kane – now in Germany with Bayern Munich – and two United legends: Wayne Rooney and Andy Cole.

“[Haaland] is a real goal machine,” said Yorke. “I think Alan Shearer is still the current [record] holder in the Premier League and was a real goal machine. Haaland is definitely in that sort of bracket.”

Even though Yorke highlighted Haaland’s brilliance in front of goal, he still doesn’t think the 23-year-old could get into a combined team of United’s treble winners in 1999 and Man City’s from last season.

Only one Man City player, in Yorke’s eyes, could maybe – possibly – make the bench of that all-time team.

“I think Kevin De Bruyne would probably, likely, get in, and I think he’s the only one. He may get on the subs bench I think eventually,” the ex-forward said with a cheeky grin.

“But from a starting point of view, it’s very hard to look beyond our treble-winning team. We had good balance, good structure.

“You talk about the core of our team straight down the middle with exceptional players on the left and right, both in defense and in attack. It’s very hard to really substitute anyone in that treble-winning team. Kevin De Bruyne is probably the only one who would get a sniff.”

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