Sir Alex Ferguson has told kicker that Manchester United can still win the Premier League this season but views Manchester City as favourites.
United have struggled since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal both failing to challenge for the title in the interim.
Jose Mourinho took charge in the summer and Ferguson said the Portuguese has the ability to rival Pep Guardiola, but results have been mixed and United are currently seventh, six points behind City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Ferguson told the German magazine he thinks City remain the most likely champions, despite a run of six games without a win in all competitions, but said: “It’s harder to predict than it was for many years.
“I think there’s five potential candidates: Manchester City as favourites, Tottenham and Liverpool, but also Man United are still there if we get some consistency soon. Even when you are trailing by six, eight points, it’s still possible to catch one or two teams.
“The rivalry and the experience of Guardiola and Mourinho makes for an exciting competition. And you shouldn’t forget Arsenal. The team is more sturdy. They’ve got better and more aggressive. I’m impressed with the young boy Alex Iwobi.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger described the Premier League as a “world championship of managers” ahead of the current season, with Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp among the other highly rated bosses in the English top flight.
Ferguson said Klopp has “revived Liverpool’s enthusiasm” and also praised Pochettino, but he hopes former Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss Mourinho can replicate his previous successes.
“Guardiola’s skills are beyond debate, Conte is getting Chelsea on track, but Mourinho can also rival Guardiola — he’s won the Champions League with two different clubs and titles in three different countries,” the Scot said.
“For my money Mauricio Pochettino has fantastic potential. Spurs have a good mix of youth and experience. Top players like [Harry] Kane or [Eric] Dier were injured but they’re still in a good position.”
Ferguson said he is “disappointed that there are not more English or Scottish managers” but added: “At the end of the day, quality is the decisive factor and the oversea owners want success and the best.”
Asked about Leicester’s success last season, he said: “Their transfer policy was fantastic. They got players with a hunger for success and a will to win, not overpriced players. They’re a good example for other clubs — in the Championship as well, where teams like Barnsley and Huddersfield come from scratch now. It is possible!
“It’ll be difficult for Leicester in the league, but in the Champions League, after three wins in three games, I think they’re capable of making a deeper run, although not winning the trophy.”
He said he is confident English clubs can fare better in Europe this season, with no Premier League side having reached the Champions League final since Chelsea’s shock success over Bayern Munich in 2012.
He said Arsenal, who last made it beyond the round of 16 in 2009-10, are “capable of a deep run” this season but he expected more from Guardiola’s City, who have taken only four points from their three games to date in Group C.
“I was a bit disappointed with Manchester City, because Barcelona were not overwhelming in their 4-0 win,” he said. “Sure, whenever Lionel Messi sees a chance he converts it, but the overall system of play wasn’t outstanding. City missed a good opportunity there.
“Because Monchengladbach, even without several starters, put in a convincing performance at Celtic and got a victory they really deserved, City still have a big job to reach the knockout stages.”