Pep Guardiola says Manchester United are “finally” ready to challenge for the top of the Premier League again under Erik ten Hag. The Manchester City manager, whose team beat United 6-3 earlier this month, believes Ten Hag is already making a big impact at the club. “I have a feeling United are coming,” Guardiola said on Friday. “Finally, United is coming. I saw yesterday (against FC Sheriff) and Chelsea in the first half. I thought, ‘I like what I see at United now.” United haven’t won the Premier League title since legendary manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. They’ve had to watch as fiercer rivals City and Liverpool dominate football. English in recent years, with Guardiola winning four league titles in five seasons.
But there is optimism that the ex-Ajax manager Ten Hag will bring a new period of success after being signed at the end of last season. United are sixth in the table, six points behind reigning champions City. But Ten Hag has overseen confidence-building wins against Liverpool, league leaders Arsenal and Tottenham in this period.
Last week’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea means United have taken 10 points against those four rivals for Champions League qualification. Guardiola also praised fourth-placed Newcastle and predicted the Saudi-backed club, led by Eddie Howe, would also play this season. “Newcastle are already there,” Guardiola said at his press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Liecester. “I saw them against Tottenham and the physicality of both sides. … They are a candidate to be there. We know how good Eddie is the manager. They have new players. They play brave.”