Former Manchester United defender Mikel Silvestre has controversially ruled Manchester City out of this season’s title race.
Silvestre, who played at Old Trafford between 1999 and 2008, instead believes his former side and Leicester are the only two teams capable of challenging champions Liverpool for their crown.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Liverpool v Man United, the Frenchman backed the Foxes over Pep Guardiola’s side but believes Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s table-toppers can finally end their title drought.
“For me there are only three teams in this year's title race: Man United, Liverpool, and I'm going to put Leicester in there as well.
“It's a wide-open season and it's good for Man United 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.”
United returned to the top of the Premier League for the first time since August 2018 following a 1-0 win over struggling Burnley at Turf Moor.
The club’s lofty position is also the first time they've headed the league after New Years Day since their last title win in 2013.
After a poor start, a 10-game unbeaten run stretching back to October, has seen Solskjaer’s side take 26 points from a possible 30 and sit three points ahead of rivals Liverpool ahead of their huge Anfield clash at the weekend.
“The great thing is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn't changed anything in recent weeks,” said Silvestre. “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.
“I wouldn't have predicted Man United 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.
Silvestre, who played a part in five title-winning teams at the club, has backed his former team-mate to bring the glory days back at Old Trafford, but stressed the importance of keeping up their good form.
“When you know the man [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer], you know he has values and that's why he was given the job; he reflects what United is about.
“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 focussed.
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