Gary Lineker has rejected suggestions that Manchester United lack the pulling power they once possessed, despite a transfer window that saw the Old Trafford club miss out on a host of big-name targets.
United's defensive line has been hugely strengthened by the arrivals of Harry Maguire from Leicester City and Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, but the midfield enforcements they appeared to need last season have not materialised, and they have not replaced striker Romelu Lukaku after his move to Inter.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has come under fire for his transfer dealings once again, yet Lineker suggests United's status as one of the true giants of the English game will remain intact even if they fail to return to title-challenging form under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
"It is just silly to say Manchester United are not what they once were and there is no question that they are still a great football club," Lineker told Goal .
"Football is cyclical. No one wins the league year after year forever more and that's a good thing because we all want to see new winners and new stories, but United are still a huge draw for any player and we saw that this week with Harry Maguire going there from Leicester.
"Liverpool is a great football club, but they haven't won an English league title for 30 years, so do we say they are not the force they once were because of that? They are European champions, they are a fantastic club and they have a great team at the moment, so football is not black and white.
"My old club Tottenham have not won one of the big trophies for a long time, but they are still a great club and just because we have seen United going through a period of transition after Alex Ferguson's retirement and have made a few mistakes with recruitment doesn't mean to say you are no longer a great football club."
Lineker has backed United's move to alter their approach in the transfer market this summer, as they have turned their attention to youthful homegrown performers and side-stepped big-money moves for star names.
Paulo Dybala, Bruno Fernandes and Gareth Bale are among those who have been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks, but Lineker suggests Solskjaer needs to be given time to reshape the club's image despite pre-season pessimism from some of the club's supporters.
"They have shifted their policy slightly to young, British players and that is probably the right route to go after some difficult years signings star names," he added.
"I can see United closing the gap this season. They are obviously not going to be up there with Manchester City and Liverpool challenging for the title, but it all about getting closer to those top two. They are a work in progress and let's see where we are in a few months.
"This is Solskjaer's first full season in the job, they have made some good defensive signings and they just need a few things to click into place and they could surprise a few people this season."
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