Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League should come as no surprise, according to former defender Mikael Silvestre.
A 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg on Tuesday consigned Louis van Gaal’s side to a place in the Europa League after they managed just two victories from their six group games.
Ex-midfielders Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were scathing in their assessments of United’s performances this season, especially in Europe, and Silvestre likewise feels their failure to reach the last 16 should not come as a shock.
“We won’t talk about transition anymore…. the previous era is over,” the 38-year-old, who won the Champions League with United in 2008, told Omnisport.
“They are out of the Champions league. It’s not a surprise. When you see them play in the league or in the Champions League, we could expect that.”
United’s poor attacking form – which has led to five 0-0 draws in their last 10 games – has been heavily criticised, but Silvestre has defended the efforts of compatriot Anthony Martial, who scored in the defeat to Wolfsburg.
“Anthony Martial can’t solve the issues of their attack alone. So he needs time and some room for him to progress,” he said.
Van Gaal has come under increasing pressure for failing to deliver silverware or an exciting brand of football during his time at Old Trafford, but Silvestre has called for patience given they remain just three points off the top of the Premier League table.
“It’s a disappointment for the players and the fans. So the critics come to the manager. It’s logical because the expectations are huge in this club,” he said.
“Time is needed. It’s the role of the manager. So far, what they have done in the league is interesting. They are in the title race and it’s different than the past two seasons.
“I hope the club can improve. But yes, the pressure is huge to win titles. United is a winning machine, especially with their financial power from [owners] the Glazers. They can attract the best players.”
Assistant Ryan Giggs remains one of the favourites to succeed Van Gaal and Silvestre considers his old team-mate to possess promising potential as a coach.
“It seems logical,” he added. “All the parameters seem to show that Ryan will take over some day. I think Louis van Gaal has been very clear. He prepares everything for his successor, who will be Ryan. Perhaps the owners will change their mind. He is on the frontline.
“I think he could be a good manager. He is not someone who will shout. He is not going to be heavily involved on a day-to-day basis. He is not someone who will lead on a daily basis. But he has this frame of mind and, like Roy Hodgson, this perspective, he is in control of himself. He knows how to read the game and the situations in order to lead as an English manager. Well, in this case as a Welsh manager.”