Jose Mourinho has hinted that Manchester United did not have the kind of structure upon which Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have built their recent success.
Mourinho parted company with United in December after two and a half years at the helm during which the club finished sixth and then a distant second behind derby rivals City, winning three trophies, but failing to reap the rewards of heavy investment in the squad.
City and Liverpool fought out a two-horse race last season with the men from Old Trafford once again crossing the line in sixth place, the former claiming the title and the latter the Champions League crown.
Asked to explain the reasons for their current dominance, the Portuguese told the Telegraph: "I think the structure of the clubs.
"When you look at City, for example: the owner, Ferran Soriano [chief executive], Txiki Begiristain [director of football], Pep Guardiola, Pep's staff and then the players. This looks like harmony, empathy, chemistry, quality, sharing the same project, sharing the same ideas.
"Liverpool? I also think that Jurgen [Klopp] is in a good position. He is very stable. I think he has control of his 'areas'. He is supported by people who think the same way, the structure of the club.
"Okay, Pep: fantastic coach. Jurgen: fantastic coach. I think if tomorrow one of them leaves and another top coach comes – of course he has to be top like they are – the team will still be there [at that level]. I think performance is globality. I think basically it is that."
Mourinho is currently awaiting a new opportunity having turned down a lucrative offer to head for China, but knows when he is called upon, it will be by a club which is having problems and not one where he will inherit a finished product.
His critics accuse him of failing to get the most out of the expensively-assembled squad with which he worked during his time at United, with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez now both playing their football at Inter Milan, the latter on loan after a miserable spell in Manchester.
Mourinho said: "Sanchez... I felt him [to be] not a happy man. And I think in every job you have when you are not happy, it is not so easy to perform at every level.
"And maybe I am wrong. Maybe it was me who was not capable to get into him and to get the best out of him. As a manager, sometimes you have the capacity to get the best out of the players and other times you are not successful in that approach.
"But the reality is that I always felt [of Sanchez], 'a sad man'. So probably in Italy he will recover this. I hope he can. I always wish well to every player."