Michael Owen has controversially claimed that the gap between Manchester United and Liverpool is not as big as people think.
United finished in sixth spot last season, 31 points behind Jurgen Klopp's men, who claimed a record 97 points to end the Premier League season in second place behind Manchester City.
Moreover, Liverpool claimed a remarkable 4-0 win over Barcelona en route to their Champions League triumph last year, while United were beaten 4-0 on aggregate by the Catalans at the quarter-final stage.
Speaking to ESPN about the state of the two rivals, Owen said: "A lot of people will obviously say when you have a manager that is there for that long then it's very difficult for the next manager just to go and pick up the baton and continue it. But I think not many people would have envisaged the extent let's say of the decline since.
"There's been some trophies won along the way obviously which has smoothed things over a little bit but in general, when you watch Manchester United now, it is a shadow of the previous teams of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign I guess, and it's going to take some building.
"I don't necessarily think the players are all that bad, I think when you look at other teams, look at Liverpool for example, are Manchester United players far inferior to Liverpool's? I don't necessarily think so."
Owen played for both clubs, winning the Ballon d'Or whilst at Anfield in 2001 before playing under Sir Alex Ferguson between 2009 and 2012.
The early form of both clubs this season is at odds with Owen's assertion, with Liverpool maintaining a 100% record after four games, while United have not won a match since their opening day victory over Chelsea.