Olympiacos goalkeeper Roy Carrol has warned his former club Manchester United that their difficult season could take another downward surge in the European Champions League round of 16 tie in Greece.
David Moyes’s side visits the Greek champions on Tuesday night for the first leg of a Champions League last-16 tie.
And Carrol, who spent four years at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson, said Olympiacos are ready to pile fresh misery on the defending Premier League champions.
“It’s been a difficult season for United in the Premier League,” said Carroll. “They used to score goals late on to win games, now they’re conceding goals late on to lose games or drop points.
“That gives us belief; that even the best teams – like United – can be beaten. That’s the way we’re looking at it, with United not in the best of form at the moment.
“It’s important for us to get something from the first leg to take to Old Trafford. We must get some sort of result at home first.
“I don’t know why they’ve struggled so much in the Premier League, but we know how good they still are on their day and won’t underestimate them. They won their Champions League group quite easily, but in the Premier League, if you make any kind of slip-up, it can lead to a goal against you, as we’ve seen with United this season.
“It’s great for the Olympiacos fans to have United coming here. The situation over here [with Greece’s failed economy] isn’t great, but United coming over here keeps people’s minds off it.
“They’re so passionate over here. There may only be 32,000 fans in the stadium, but the noise from them will make it seem like there are 100,000 in there.”
United secured a 2-0 win at Crystal Paplace on Saturday but still face a huge task to clinch fourth spot and avoid missing out on the Champions League for the first time in 19 years.
Despite United’s floundering form this season, Carroll said he does not expect them to endure a similar decline to their great rivals and fourth-placed Liverpool, who have not won the league since 1990.
“For years, Liverpool were one of the best teams, winning European Cups and league titles,” said the 36-year-old Northern Ireland international.
“Then it all stopped for them, but I don’t see the same thing happening to United.
“Okay, this season has been tough and they might miss out on the Champions League at the end of it. But I think they’ll be back stronger next season. I don’t think they’ll drop like Liverpool did. I hope not, anyway, because United are a fantastic club and I had four great years there.
“No matter who came in after Sir Alex Ferguson, it was always going to be tough. Sir Alex is a legend all over the world, not just in Manchester. But everybody knows what David Moyes achieved at Everton with hardly any money, so he’s already proven himself as a manager.
“This summer is going to be big for United. There’s a lot of talk about them spending big in the transfer market and I think things will turn around once he gets his own players in.
“He knows things have to improve next season, to get United back up to the top and challenging for the title.”