GARY NEVILLE believes Manchester United's players should use the supposed weakness their rivals hope to exploit as a motivation for next season.
With Alex Ferguson retired, two members of his backroom team exiting already and Rene Meulensteen expected to make it a third, the sense of change around Old Trafford is impossible to escape.
Throw in David Moyes' need to get his head round the enormity of the job he has taken on and it is little wonder Chelsea and Manchester City are sensing an opportunity that did not exist when Ferguson was around.
But Neville feels that attitude should fire United's players rather than make them worry.
"They should see it as a new challenge and an important challenge," Neville said.
"Since Sir Alex announced his retirement, other clubs have already been lifted by the fact he is no longer around.
"The players should see that as a slight on them and say, 'Hang on, do you think we can't go out on that pitch and perform without our manager'?
"That is a challenge in itself and ultimately the players and David Moyes will need to respond to that. There will be ups and downs.
"There will be pressure moments in the coming season when people will say, 'It's not the same', but it's too easy to say that."
Neville is sure his old club are capable of responding to the challenge.
"The most important thing to say about this team is it's on an upward curve," he said.
"You've got players like (David) De Gea, Rafael, (Jonny) Evans, (Chris) Smalling, (Phil) Jones, (Tom) Cleverley, (Danny) Welbeck and (Javier) Hernandez to name eight players who are still young and haven't reached anywhere near their peak.
"This team has still not reached its potential. I'm sure there will be additions to the squad this summer."