Jamie Carragher has defended Louis van Gaal's record at Manchester United this season, insisting that the Red Devils were never going to be able to win the Premier League title.
The Dutchman has come under fire for his team's inconsistent displays, as despite a heavy outlay on players last summer, United are 10 points off the pace for the top-flight crown with just 10 matches remaining in the campaign.
However, Carragher has insisted that Van Gaal faced an impossible task in reversing the fortunes of the club immediately following their seventh-place finish in the 2013-14 season.
He told the Daily Mail: "When Louis van Gaal was unveiled last summer, what position did you imagine Manchester United would be in going into the final 10 games?
"If you envisaged them leading the title race, you would have been kidding yourself. There was never any chance of United finishing in front of Chelsea and Manchester City this season, not even after they spent £150m on new players and recruited a coach with a distinguished reputation.
"Yet given the way some people are talking about United at the moment, there seems to be disappointment and mystification that Van Gaal's team are in the middle of a fight to get into the top four and not perched in top spot, setting an unrelenting pace."
United are next in action against Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Monday.