Last updated : 18 August 2004 By editor

Alan Hansen in the Telegraph:

‘Four or five years ago, United's midfield of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Roy Keane would frighten anybody. Nowadays, opponents will look at United's team-sheet and fancy their chances. That is why I believe United will struggle to regain the title this year. Arsenal are beating them on the pitch and Chelsea are beating them off it, in the transfer market.

‘They will enjoy being written off, though. I experienced the same kind of criticism in the media following a poor pre-season at Liverpool and we loved it. People had suggested that it was the end of an era at Anfield, but we went on to win three trophies that season. Criticism is much better motivation than being told how good you are and United have always bounced back from a bad season by winning something the following campaign. It will be harder than ever this time.

‘I can only see the title being contested by Arsenal and Chelsea, with United probably having to be content with third place.’