Former Manchester United defender and current Sunderland captain John O’Shea has expressed his shock at how far his former club have fallen.
Relegation-threatened Sunderland defeated United 2-1 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as the home side picked up a crucial three points to move within a point of safety.
But while O’Shea was delighted to see his side get the win, he felt for his former club – where he won five Premier League titles and a Champions League – but said they have lost their aura.
“Because of the season they are having and the amount of injuries they have got, it is difficult for them [to retain their aura],” said O’Shea.
“They still have some very good attacking players. I thought our full-backs did particularly well in closing them down, but they don’t have as many players as they used to have.
“That said, they had only lost once in 2016 before here. They have been getting a lot of credit recently. They are still a very good team, but, they are not challenging where they want to be in the table, that’s for sure.
“Champions League qualification is the minimum target for them. That is the given beforehand, when you look at the squads and the budgets, and what is spent at clubs to get into the Champions League.
“Not just Man United, the top five and six spend big to get into the Champions League, because that is where the rewards are and that is what attracts bigger and better players.
“That is the challenge they have and they are having to adjust. It’s difficult for them. The quality in the Premier League is increasing.”
The result leaves United six points off the top four, with many at Old Trafford breathing a sigh of relief after fourth-placed Manchester City missed a chance to blow the gap out to nine with a win over Tottenham.