Gary Neville believes that Manchester United need to nail their recruitment strategy this summer and hit the ground running next season if they are to challenge for the Premier League title.
United 's spot in the top-four, along with Champions League football next season, has already been secured and a position as runners-up to Manchester City is within touching distance.
Positive signs have been shown this season, with United bouncing back from a troubled start to the campaign and elimination from the group stages of the Champions League with a significantly improved sequence of results.
United still face a stern challenge next season in the attempt to dethrone City from their crown, with Liverpool likely to rejuvenate as well in the summer months.
As such, Neville believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot of work to do in the close-season if they are to close the gap.
"I think it depends upon the recruitment this summer and what the other clubs do. How much Manchester United can grow and how they handle the fans coming back next season," he told Sky Sports.
"There is that nervousness that this team have done better when the stadiums haven't been full and they haven't been under the pressure of the 75,000 [in Old Trafford].
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"When you listen to Sir Alex Ferguson talk about the mentality, you realise that United can't accept second. What Pep Guardiola is doing at Manchester City, he's instilled something pretty special at City, as has Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, and it's going to take a lot to get past that.
"That's what Ole has to try and do but it won't be easy because those two managers have got a real hold over their clubs and a real hold over their fans. The connection that Sir Alex had to his players and the fans is there at those two clubs at the moment.
"Ole has got a lot of work to do in the summer and they've got to hit the ground running at the start of next season but they are closer than I thought they would be. I didn't think they would finish second this season."