Manchester United have been negligent in the transfer market and rival clubs will relax knowing they will now rush to pay high prices, according to Gary Neville.
Former United captain Neville was dismayed by United's performance as they lost 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace in their Premier League season opener on Sunday (AEST).
Donny van de Beek – the club's only signing in the transfer window – got the only goal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.
Neville cannot believe the Netherlands international is the only recruit at this stage of the window, which closes on October 5, given plans could have been in place from March when lockdown began.
Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho has repeatedly been linked with a big-money move, as have defensive reinforcements.
Neville told Sky Sports: "You see Liverpool getting a player for £40 million, £25 million. [Timo] Werner [at Chelsea] is quite cheap compared to some of the prices of players you see in the market.
"United always seem to have to pay top dollar, almost as though they are easy pickings. The problem is, they have to find a way to get deals done and they can't get deals done efficiently.
"And it is negligence not to get the squad in place, they have had six months since March when lockdown was on; being able to deliberate, do zoom calls, connect with agents, move things into place.
"There is no excuse really for not getting your transfers done before the start of the season. They need four or five players, so to only get one done…
"United have got to see the danger signs here - they could end up in fourth or fifth again if they are not careful and last season was a step forward.
"That should have been the moment, COVID coming, economic uncertainty, United step up and drive the market forward, get the squad in place and send a message to Man City and Liverpool that we are coming for you.
"Now they are on the back foot and they have to do their business in the next couple of weeks."
Neville added: "United have got the money - if they can spend £90 million-£100 million on Sancho, they have got the money to do the deals.
"They have not got the quality or experience of football people within that club, it looks like a convoluted and complex structure, I'm not quite sure where the decisions lie.
"Other [top clubs] are definite, they are precise. You sense they are in control.
"Then you end up with that on Saturday and what that does is make [United] weaker, because now clubs who they are wanting players off will be looking it and thinking, 'We will relax because they are going to come and knock on my door, they are going to have to.'
"The people in the stands whose job is to put that team on the pitch have been there for eight years now and they have not had the ability to build a football team that can win the league.
"They have to find a way of doing it quickly as these years are going to drag on."