Jim Ratcliffe vows Manchester United will knock City and Liverpool ‘off their perch’

British billionaire who has invested in the Red Devils has not closed the door on Mason Greenwood returning to the club

Jim Ratcliffe has vowed to knock Manchester City and Liverpool off their perch after taking control of football operations at Manchester United – but has warned fans it could take at least three years to do so.

Channelling the spirit of Alex Ferguson, the 71-year-old admitted that United had to learn from the way their “noisy neighbours” had been so successful in recent years. But he insisted that the blueprint would be in place to turn the club around.

“We have a lot to learn from our noisy neighbour and the other neighbour,” he said. “They are the enemy at the end of the day. There is nothing I would like better than to knock both of them off their perch. They have been in a good place for a while and there are things we can learn from both of them. They have sensible organisations, great people within the organisations, a good, driven and elite environment that they work in. I am very respectful of them but they are still the enemy.”

United are sixth in the Premier League, five points behind fourth place as they look to reach the Champions League and have not won the Premier League since 2013.

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Asked for a time-frame for success, Radcliffe admitted it would take at least three years to get back to the top. “The fans would run out of patience if it was a 10-year plan,” he said. “But it’s certainly a three-year plan to get there. To think that we’re going to be playing football as good as Manchester City played against Real Madrid last year by next season is not sensible. And if we give people false expectations, then they will get disappointed. So I think the key thing is our trajectory, so that people can see that we’re making progress. Because it’s not easy to turn Manchester United into the world’s best football team.”

He added: “We have to be careful we don’t rush at it in a way. You don’t want to run to the wrong solution rather than walk to the correct solution.

“We have two issues: one is the longer term, getting Manchester United to where, where we would like to get it but there’s also the shorter term of getting the most out of the club as it stands today because we would like to see the Champions League for next season if we can. The key challenge here is that longer term. We need to do things well and properly, and thoroughly, and not rush at it, so it’s not an overnight change, it’s going to take two or three seasons. You have to ask the fans for some patience. I know the world these days likes instant gratification but that’s not the case with football really. Look at Pep [Guardiola] at Man City – it didn’t happen overnight.”

Ratcliffe has played an active role forming the new structure, alongside the Ineos director of sport, Sir Dave Brailsford, and chief executive of sport, Jean-Claude Blanc, who will take positions on United’s board. He admitted he was frustrated with Newcastle putting a £20m price tag on their sporting director, Dan Ashworth, who wants to move to Manchester United.

“It’s a bit silly, personally,” he said. “I wont get dragged into that. What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting a man who is really good at his job sits in his garden for one and a half years. We had a very grown up conversation with City about Omar [Berrada, the incoming chief executive].

“When things got done we sorted it out very amicably. They could see why he wanted to take that challenge. You look at Pep when he’s done with one of his footballers; he doesn’t want them to sit in the garden for one and a half years. He doesn’t do that. That’s not the way the UK works or the law works.”

In his first public comments with the UK media since his purchase of an almost 28 per cent stake in the club was confirmed, Ratcliffe said he would look at the Mason Greenwood case and make a fresh decision.

Asked whether it was feasible Greenwood could have a future at United, Ratcliffe replied: “I don’t know. All I can do is talk about the principle of how we will approach decisions like that. Is he the right type of footballer, are we happy with the ... is he a good person or not?”

Asked whether he would close the door on Greenwood returning, he said: “It’s quite clear we have to make a decision. There is no decision that’s been made. The process will be: understand the facts not the hype and then try and come to a fair decision on the basis of values, which is basically is he a good guy or not? Could he play sincerely for Manchester United – and would we be comfortable with it, and would the fans be comfortable with it?” – Guardian