Jose Mourinho must lead Manchester United to the English title this season if he is to re-establish the culture that under-pinned the success of the Alex Ferguson era, the Scotsman's former right-hand man Carlos Queiroz has told Reuters.
Queiroz was assistant manager under Ferguson during two spells totalling five years from 2002 to 2008 and instrumental in the club's 2008 Champions League win as well as three Premier League title triumphs.
The 64-year-old feels United have simply followed the big-spending blueprint of clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea in the post-Ferguson era and need to bed down a nucleus of players to have a chance of sustained success.
"The Manchester United that I worked for was based on a couple of elements, the foundation of Alex was based on continuity and trust," Queiroz, who has just secured back-to-back World Cup qualifications with Iran, said.
"Manchester United didn't have different teams at that time, they had a core of players that established the heritage of the club, the culture of the club.
"In my opinion, the things that made the team and the club suffer and drop was when this cultural approach was broken, to start to be like other clubs and building teams with money. The club lost a little bit of its heritage.
"The foundations were very, very strong inside the club. I think you can see at this moment, it's the club with the same name, the same colours, the same fans but it has the same pattern as City, of Chelsea, of some other clubs, like PSG and some others in Europe also.
"I hope that if the team under Jose is able to succeed and to win the championship that it can recover the foundation, which is stability and continuity.
"Because to win at this level it's crucial for Jose or any other coach to make everybody understand that now we have the right conditions to keep going with this core."
United struggled in the first three years after Ferguson's retirement in 2013, with David Moyes lasting just eight months before Louis van Gaal took over as the long-term replacement in the wake of a four-game caretaker stint from Ryan Giggs.
Van Gaal led the club to the FA Cup at the end of his second season in charge but was fired and replaced by Mourinho, who went some way to restoring the club's glory days by winning the Europa League and League Cup in his first season at the helm.
Mourinho has spent heavily to overhaul the team, signing Paul Pogba last year as well as capturing Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku over the last 14 months.
Queiroz believes his fellow Portuguese now has the talent to win the Premier League title for the first time since Ferguson's retirement, a crucial step if he is to have the time to fully re-build the foundations at the 20-times English champions.
"There were a couple of interesting decisions this year that were not like the first year and they show that Jose knows things better," said Queiroz.
"Of course, he's an intelligent guy, experienced guy and he knows much better the internal environment, the mentality, the spirit.
"It's critical that Jose wins the championship to implement those two highways, the continuity and the stability.
"And with the players that Manchester United have now I believe in the future they don't need too many changes. Just keep going and moving forward."