There is a “big, hard job” to oversee at Old Trafford, says the ex-England international, with the reigning champions surging ahead of their rivals

Manchester United are “about a billion pounds” away from competing with Manchester City, says former Blues midfielder Steve McManaman.

Two fierce rivals have both invested heavily in their respective playing staffs over recent years.

City have found plenty of value, with back-to-back Premier League title triumphs and an historic domestic treble secured under the guidance of Pep Guardiola.

Those at Old Trafford have found the going a little tougher, with the Red Devils still stuck in the rut they dropped into once Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

United are facing another battle to force their way back into the top four for 2019-20, while uncomfortable questions have been asked of a number of supposed stars brought onto their books.

Heading into a derby date with City on Saturday, McManaman admits there is still a “big, hard job” to be overseen in order for Manchester to become red again.

Quizzed on when he expects that to happen, the ex-Blues winger told “In about a billion pounds?

“They need a lot, a lot of work. They need to bring in a number of players, a huge number of players with the quality that can do them justice.

“A few players are going to leave of course at the end of the season, players who are surplus to requirements, so you’re talking about six or seven players they need to bring in.

“Three or four are needed anyway, then you also have to replace the number of players who are leaving anyway. They’ve got an absolutely huge job on their hands, they’re going to have to spend a lot of money, they’re going to have to be very savvy and they’re going to have to identify the right players for Manchester United.

“Ed Woodward has spent the money, but again there’s that question of who’s actually identifying the players. Who’s the person saying ‘This is the player for us, I believe in them, let’s sign them’?

“I don’t know whether it’s the manager who’s buying them, or it’s somebody upstairs who’s buying them, but the fans need to know.

“If the manager is picking the wrong players, then you will have problems.

“Paul Pogba is still out and that’s a blow, Nemanja Matic doesn’t seem to be fancied, Juan Mata doesn’t seem to be fancied and they’re coming to the end of their careers, so they’re going to need to be replaced.

“It’s a big, hard job, it really, really is.”

United head to the Etihad Stadium sat sixth in the Premier League table, eight points adrift of the top four and 11 behind City – who have endured the odd wobble in the defence of their title.