London - Ryan Giggs says he advised Manchester United to sign Gabriel Jesus and Kylian Mbappe before they became stars and believes the club are paying the price for an inconsistent transfer policy.
The United legend joined the club's backroom staff when his stellar playing career ended in 2014, serving as Louis van Gaal's assistant after spending a year as player-coach under David Moyes.
And Giggs, who watched Brazilian striker Jesus and France forward Mbappe with a scout during that time, believes the club's recruitment "could have been better".
"I watched Gabriel Jesus play three years ago," he told Britain's Times newspaper. "I watched Mbappe for a year. I was watching them with the scout and it was a no-brainer. It was just like, 'get them'.
"It would have been £5 million or something - get them, loan them back - and that's where the recruitment could have been better."
Jesus joined Manchester City for a reported £27 million in January while Mbappe swapped Monaco for Paris Saint-Germain this summer, initially on loan but with an option to make the move permanent next summer for a fee of around £166 million.
United, who trail City by 11 points in the Premier League, have spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer market since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 but Giggs believes they do not have enough high-class players to compete with their neighbours.
And the most decorated player in United's history also thinks some of the players they let go should never have been allowed to leave the club.
"I know what a Manchester United player looks like," he said.
"There have been a lot who have come through that haven't been United players and also players who were United and shouldn't have left.
"I'm talking about Rafael (Da Silva), (Danny) Welbeck, Jonny Evans - players who are United through and through.
"It was hard because Louis had his own ideas and you had to respect that but, yes, we had a few arguments about a couple of them."
Giggs told the Times he felt he was in with a chance of succeeding Van Gaal as United's manager but understood the decision to go for Jose Mourinho even though he feels he could have given the club continuity.
"They had fallen down the pecking order, so do they go for someone who - and it winds me up saying this - hasn't got experience as a manager or do they go for a winner?" said Giggs.
"They went for a winner, in Jose, a win-at-all-costs type of manager. Is Jose a typical Manchester United manager? Probably not, but United were in a situation of ‘how quickly can we get back to the top?’"