Sky Sports duo Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have both tipped Manchester City to retain their Premier League title ahead of the new season.
Pep Guardiola led his side to yet another title last season, as well as the treble after picking up the FA Cup and a first-ever Champions League trophy, and neither of them think anyone will be able to catch them again when the action gets back underway in a couple of weeks.
“No, I don’t think so,” says Carragher, when asked by FourFourTwo if anyone can surpass them. Neville, a former Manchester United defender, added: “Sitting here today, it’s difficult to say yes.”
Two of the respective sides hoping to will be their former clubs United and Liverpool respectively. Both endured varying campaigns last time out, as United finished in the top four and reached both domestic cup finals in their first season under Erik Ten Haag, while Liverpool had a tough season before eventually climbing to fifth.
Both think those sides will finish in the top four this season, but are less confident about a title charge looking at the quality in Manchester City’s squad.
“It’s all dependent on the budget,” says Neville, on United’s changes, who have added Andre Onana and Mason Mount to their squad this summer.
“Under the owners the club has had, I think they’ll probably still finish in the top four, but I don’t think they’ll improve on it. If they got new owners and had £250m or £300m to spend, they’ve got a chance of going up to second. I do think they’ve got a chance of taking that spot off Arsenal – that’s up for grabs – but they’d have to spend well.
Meanwhile, Carragher is unsure if Liverpool can make up the margins lost last season in one summer.
“I think Liverpool will be in the top four. They signed Alexis Mac Allister early on. They were awful last season and were still in with a shout of the top four with two or three games to go, which I couldn’t believe, considering how poor they’d been in the middle of the season.
“It’s whether they can get back to the level they’ve been at: it’s really difficult to have the season they’ve just had, then add 25 or 30 points to get to where they were before. I’m not sure they can make that jump.
“But I certainly think they can be at the top of the pack chasing Manchester City. I actually think that Manchester United will improve, but I also think Jurgen Klopp will be so energetic and determined to put things right after how poor it was last season. I get the feeling that he would have loved this season to have started as early as June.”
More Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool stories
Pep Guardiola's side have reportedly smashed their transfer record to bring in Josko Gvardiol in defence, though, having already signed Matteo Kovacic this summer. Jude Bellingham reportedly turned down the new European champions after taking inspiration from Erling Haaland's career path – though Alphonso Davies could move to the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester United haven't given up hope of signing Victor Osimhen, despite the striker looking set to stay at Napoli. Meanwhile, Ten Hag and co could face competition from Arsenal in the race for Monaco and France defender Axel Disasi.
For Liverpool, meanwhile, Benjamin Pavard of Bayern Munich has been linked, while James Ward-Prowse is said to be on the shortlist. Celta Vigo's Gabri Veiga is a target and Khephren Thuram of Nice is said to be close to joining – but Manuel Ugarte is one star who won't be moving to Merseyside.
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Rich Laverty has been a women’s football writer for a decade now, covering the game across the FA WSL, several FA Cup finals and live from the 2017 European Championships and 2019 World Cup. He has written regularly for publications in the UK and USA, including The Times, Guardian, Independent, iSport, FourFourTwo, Bleacher Report, The Blizzard, These Football Times and Our Game Magazine.
- Chris FlanaganSenior Staff Writer