Mikael Silvestre has ruled Manchester United into the Premier League title race and boldly suggested that Manchester City will not be in the running.
The battle for domestic supremacy in English football appears set to go down to the wire this season, with several sides harbouring realistic ambitions of chasing down the ultimate prize.
United have moved to the top of the table, with defending champions Liverpool next up for them.
Leicester are also in the mix, while Chelsea and City are under pressure to deliver after investing heavily in the construction of star-studded squads.
Jose Mourinho will also hope to have Tottenham in contention if inconsistencies can be ironed out in north London.
Silvestre, though, claims that just three teams will sustain challenges for the crown, with a man who captured four titles during his playing days at Old Trafford telling Ladbrokes: “For me there are only three teams in this year’s title race: Man Utd, Liverpool, and I’m going to put Leicester in there as well.
“It’s a wide-open season and it’s good for Man Utd to be in the race instead of playing catch-up and looking on from a distance.
“Now it’s just a case of staying up there. They’re in a very positive position at this point in the campaign.”
Former France international Silvestre added on the reversal in fortune being enjoyed by the rejuvenated Red Devils: “The great thing is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn’t changed anything in recent weeks. From United’s poor run to where they are now, he’s stuck to his plans and his ideas.
“Solskjaer didn’t have to change anything; it was more that the players had to respond to what he was asking them to do.
“United had a fantastic run at the back end of last season, then they managed to bring in some names where the club identified weaknesses and clearly they’re now back on track. Ole just wanted that consistency and it looks like it’s back now.
“When you know the man (Solskjaer), you know he has values and that’s why he was given the job; he reflects what United is about. As a United player you need to ignore the noise in the media – as a manager even more so.
“The staff are all united and behind the manager. There’s enough quality in there to challenge for the title. But football is a funny game; you can’t afford to relax because you’ll slip down one or two more places in the table.
“You need to stay focused. I wouldn’t have predicted Man Utd to be at the top of the table in January back at the start of the season, but that’s the beauty of the game.
“They’ve taken advantage of other teams’ misfortunes. It’s why the Premier League in general is so interesting. It’s great to see United in that position; I’d call it a very good surprise.”