Sir Alex Ferguson still believes the Barclays Premier League title is a three-horse race involving United, Manchester City and Chelsea, despite the managerial changes at Stamford Bridge this week.
The United boss expressed his sympathy for Roberto Di Matteo, who was dismissed by Roman Abramovich and replaced by Rafael Benitez. But, according to Sir Alex, the changes at the top do not alter the fact that Chelsea have undeniable quality in their squad.
"Certainly a few week ago we were thinking it looked like a three-horse race," the boss told reporters on Friday. "I don’t think that is out of the question either because there are only a few points between the three teams anyway.
"Chelsea have got a big squad of players. They have a lot of experience and have brought in a couple of young players – Oscar and Hazard. There is a bit of youth throughout their team now, there is a sprinkling of youth coming through and a good blend of experience and young players. So there is no way you can possibly dismiss Chelsea."
Di Matteo's dismissal had an air of inevitability about it. Sir Alex is an advocate of giving managers opportunity to prove themselves and can't help but feel the Italian wasn't given a fair crack of the whip.
"Everyone feels for Roberto Di Matteo and quite rightly," he said. "It’s quite amazing when you consider he has won the FA Cup and Champions League. The biggest disappointment for me is in two weeks time they are going to play in the Club World Cup. You would have thought they would have waited two weeks to give the guy a chance to win a world title.
"Of course, Rafa Benitez is very lucky because on his CV in two weeks' time he could have two world club titles to his name [he won one with Inter] and had nothing to do with the teams. Jose Mourinho won the Treble at Inter; Rafa took over and they won the world title without having to do anything. He had nothing to do with the construction of the teams – that’s why I really feel disappointment for Roberto – he could have an FA Cup, Champions League and Club World Cup on his CV. It’s a pity for him."