Mikael Silvestre believes last year's World Cup hampered Manchester United and their summer signings this season.
The Red Devils signed six players, including the likes of Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. The latter arrived on a season-long loan from AS Monaco.
Di Maria was signed from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £57.9m, and the Argentine international along with his South America counterpart Falcao, have struggled in their debut season.
The former United defender has claimed that the change of manager, followed by a busy summer schedule due to the World Cup, has seen them fail to challenge Chelsea for the league title.
"It is a team in transition. You have seen a new manger come in, new ideas and a lot of new players come in straight after the World Cup. Short period to adjust together. So that was a big challenge for Louis van Gaal," Silvestre told IBTimes UK.
"Even Van Gaal did not have a vacation. Difficult start, but I am glad that United are challenging for top four spot. The mission is accomplished and it is important for the club to be in that competition," he added.
Silvestre was in Kolkata to inaugurate a Chevrolet's renovated sports ground at the Rebecca Belilious English Institution, last weekend. It was a part of General Motor India's CSR initiative of creating a safe place for children to play and encourage them to stay in school.
The Frenchman urged children in India to work hard and has advised them to compare their talent with the best player on the pitch to develop into professional footballers.
"Work, work hard and work more than anybody you see in your team and your opponents. Because that gives you an extra edge and also you can measure against the other," the former United defender said.
"It's a team game, but in the end to make it as a professional footballer or play the game at the highest level, you measure the talent what you achieve on the field."
"Comparing yourself to others. If you want to make it, make sure you do the right thing the right way more than the others," he said.
Chevrolet's initiative helps children in Kolkata create a safe environment to play football. Regarding the event, P. Balendran, vice president, General Motors India, said: "The previous pitch was nothing but an open space covered in dirt and mud. The children of Tikiapara had no option but to play on it, despite its poor and dilapidated condition."
"Chevrolet saw a place that could be completely rebuilt to allow students to turn their lives around, encourage them to stay in school and unlock the potential for their future."