If Man United win FA Cup, are they close to truly challenging Man City?

If you really squint hard enough, you can do the following. You can see Manchester United, just one game away from their second trophy of the season, about to become the only team in England to play in the final of both domestic cup competitions. You can also see Manchester City who, yes, have already won the Premier League, but who could still lose both the FA Cup and Champions League finals and end the season with only one trophy. Were that to happen, they wouldn't even finish this season as the soccer club with the most trophies in their own city.

Now, while that kind of hardcore squinting is happening only in the darkest corners of the internet and the reddest corners of Manchester, there is a way for this season to wrap up with United seeming like they're on a steadily accelerating upward trajectory and City appearing stagnant, earning only one trophy for all their supposed dominance and with the Premier League's ongoing investigation looming above the club. I'm not saying it will actually be that way, but a kind of momentum-based thinking could have you feeling like it is that way.

- Watch LIVE: FA Cup final, Man City vs. Man United, Saturday, 9:40 a.m. ET, ESPN+
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Now, it's certainly true that Manchester United are headed in the right direction. They finished last season with as many goals scored as they conceded. In Erik ten Hag's first season with the club, they're all the way back up to third, locked into the 2023-24 Champions League, and one game away from the FA and League Cup double. But how far away are they from City? How long until they challenge for a title? And how much of the current squad will still be around whenever it happens again?

How far are they from City?