Rio Ferdinand expects Manchester City to retain the Premier League title this season and has predicted who will join Pep Guardiola’s side in the top-four.
Man City won their fourth league title in five years last season and begin the 2022-23 campaign on Sunday against West Ham.
Liverpool finished just one point behind the English champions after a thrilling title tussle, while Chelsea came third and Tottenham beat Arsenal to the final top-four spot.
Ferdinand believes Liverpool are the only team who can run Manchester City close this season but expects Spurs to continue their revival under Antonio Conte and Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United to improve.
As a result, Ferdinand has predicted Liverpool will finish the season as runners-up and be joined in the top-four by Tottenham and Man United, with Chelsea and Arsenal both missing out on the Champions League places.
‘I can’t look any further than Man City,’ the former England defender told William Hill. ‘Recruitment has been efficient and with [Erling] Haaland, they’ve got the best in the market.
‘And [they’ve got] squad depth with someone like [Kalvin] Phillips as well. The only one I think will be a loss for them is [Raheem] Sterling, but I feel this season [Jack] Grealish will step up and become one of the main men.
‘The top four will be Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United, in that order.’
Under Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United finished just sixth last term, going a fifth successive season without any silverware.
While Ferdinand is confident his former club will improve this season under former Ajax boss Ten Hag, he says United need to deal with the saga surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portugal legend wants to leave Old Trafford this summer but Manchester United are adamant he is not for sale.
Ferdinand added: ‘People are saying you’ve got to let Ronaldo go… Well, get someone in who can score 24-25 goals first.
‘Darwin Nunez has gone, Erling Haaland has gone and Robert Lewandowski has gone. They were the three players that you were thinking, “look these are the only ones that you were going to go for that will outright come into the Manchester United team immediately.”
‘But they’re gone. So Manchester United can’t let Ronaldo go, they can’t. Even if he’s begging to go, they just can’t let him go. It’s not the right thing to do, I don’t think.
‘If you let him go, you’re gambling on Anthony Martial, who’s never been consistent enough for Manchester United, who they would have let go for peanuts last season if there were any takers.
‘He went to Sevilla and didn’t do it. Marcus Rashford hasn’t played properly for probably 18 months, maybe longer. Jadon Sancho last season didn’t hit the heights that United expected, Anthony Elanga’s a young kid…
‘So, you’re looking at it and thinking, “who can we hang our hat on and say yes, he’s going to drag the others up?” Bruno Fernandes maybe, but he’s not a striker.
‘It’s very easy for everybody to say, “you’ve got to get rid of Ronaldo, it’s a circus around him, he’s bringing too much attention…”
‘He might be bringing a little bit more attention than the club wants, but the geezer guarantees goals every single season.’
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