Neville's former club have endured a tumultuous period since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 - the year of their last title - going through managers and big-money signings in the search for a winning formula.
But ex-Red Devils captain Neville claims there are no shortcuts back to the top for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and it may be the 2021-22 season before his side can seriously challenge for the Premier League title again.
“I think United are going to have moments like that in this period, there is going to be pain and there are going to be defeats that you can't quite explain,” he said, speaking on the Gary Neville podcast .
“Beating Chelsea emphatically on the first day, playing well at Wolves and could've won the game. Then, all of a sudden, you're up against Crystal Palace and you lose at home - it's quite mystifying.
"They're the type of results you get when you're trying to develop and change and transition out of one culture to another. All Man Utd have to do is remain patient and stick to what they're doing.”
Solskjaer is in his first full season in charge at Old Trafford and his re-building programme has youth and enthusiasm at the heart of his thinking after some expensive mistakes in the transfer market in recent seasons.
"The most important thing about the transfer window for United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is that they don't make mistakes, not that they do loads of business, but it's about making sure they have the right type of players," explained Neville.
"It may seem like too far into the distance but I would suggest four or five transfer windows to get things absolutely right and get back to the type of squad he would want to challenge these Liverpool and Man City teams.
“I've said before, he's got to be ready, not at the end of this season, not next season, but the one after, to challenge for the Premier League title.
"Potentially when Pep Guardiola has left Man City, or Liverpool have had another round of recruitment and another set of players in...Ole has got to be ready to pounce.
“It's a long-term thing, there's not going to be a quick fix or magic wand from any manager. United have tried David Moyes, they've tried Louis van Gaal, they've tried Jose Mourinho, all proven and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going down the long road, not the quick path.
"There's no shortcut, there never is, and for me, it's now about making it through these difficult moments, like losing to Crystal Palace and you feel like the world is going to fall in but people must remain patient.
"I want to see the nonsense go, the speculation that players want to go, I want to see the disciplinary issues or the little tit-for-tat stuff over the last two or three years where there have been fall-outs, I want to see that go and the leaks. I want to see a team building slowly."