The new Premier League season is almost upon us and Manchester United will hope to climb back into the top 4 under the stewardship of Erik ten Hag.
Pre-season results have been positive with players buying into the new manager’s methods and there is an air of optimism surrounding the club once again.
But transfer business has once again been sluggish at Old Trafford with only three new players — Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez — brought in ahead of the start of the league. While the Red Devils are trying to secure more signings (Frenkie de Jong, Antony), there is very little chance that those will happen before August 7.
City to triumph
And according to former defender Rio Ferdinand, that is what is separating the contenders with the pretenders. The former England international was quick to praise derby rivals Manchester City for their dealings so far and even went on to predict another City title triumph come the end of the season.
The Cityzens have brought in the likes of Erling Haaland, Stefan Ortega, Kalvin Phillips, and Julian Alvarez. And due to selling the likes of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko for big bucks as well as a number of fringe players, they have actually recouped more than they have spent.
“I think City will be the team to beat again,” Ferdinand tells Mirror Football, courtesy of BT Sport. “They’ve strengthened again, they’ve got Haaland in and Kalvin Phillips. They’ve lost Raheem Sterling, yes, but they’ve got a deep squad still and players that can play multiple positions. And they’ve got the experience of winning. Liverpool will push them hard again.”
United to pip Chelsea, Arsenal to top 4
The 43-year-old has also predicted Tottenham Hotspur to finish third followed by United. Antonio Conte’s Spurs have spent heavily this summer, bringing in the likes of Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster, Richarlison, Djed Spence and Clement Lenglet.
Chelsea and Arsenal, just like United have left it late to get their players in. Arsenal are still in a better position having splashed the cash to bring in Zinchenko, Jesus, Matt Turner, Marquinhos and Fabio Vieira.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have invested £80million in Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly but are still trying to plug multiple gaps in their squad including a gaping hole up top. And that has meant that top 4 will slip them both by, according to the United legend.
“A subplot to those two trying to win the league is between Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs – and possibly Arsenal – for those third and fourth spots. I think that’s going to be a great race, as well.
“I’m sure someone from out of the pack will come up and jump into that area as well, like we saw with West Ham last season. It’s going to be interesting. I think the top six in order will go Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal,” Ferdinand predicted.
And the former Leeds player was full of praise for the big clubs who have done their business early and allowed their new recruits time to adapt to the manager’s needs and gel with the rest of the squad. United’s protracted dealings have meant most of Ten Hag’s top targets are yet to join.
“For me, it’s not ideal. United have got a couple of problems going on at the moment in the transfer window. For Man City and Liverpool, it’s been plain sailing. They’ve got their business done, they’re fine, they’re working towards the start of the season from a much cleaner base. Spurs have done well, I think Bissouma will be a fantastic signing – Richarlison as well, getting in those positions up front – two big signings.”
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