Rio Ferdinand on Jose Mourinho's future at Manchester United as he makes a painful title prediction
Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has predicted his former club will not finish in the top two positions in the Premier League this season and has cast doubt over manager Jose Mourinho's long-term future at Old Trafford.
Ferdinand believes Mourinho's agonised body language during the club's pre-season tour of America and his evident discontent at United's transfer policy has cast a cloud over the club, as he suggested his pessimism emanating from the manager would rub off of his players.
"There seems to be a lot of negativity around United at the moment, and that doesn’t bode well," Ferdinand told the Daily Mirror.
"The manager is obviously not happy about the signings he hasn’t been able to make and not having certain players available on their pre-season tour, which isn't nice to hear if you are a young kid trying to make your mark on the fringes of the squad. He seems to have put a nail in that coffin with the way he has spoken.
"Then there has been the saga of Anthony Martial going home from the tour in America and not coming back.
"In the meantime, Manchester City look stronger than ever and Liverpool have improved again.
"I'm a United fan, and I want to see them win the title, but I fear it’s going to be very difficult for that to happen this season.
"I can't see past City and Liverpool as the top two and to say that about the two clubs who wouldn’t be top of any United fan’s Christmas card list is horrendous."
Ferdinand went on to urge United to sign Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld ahead of Thursday's transfer deadline, as he pondered whether Mourinho has a future at Old Trafford.
"Harry Maguire did great at the World Cup, but of the players potentially available he would not be my first choice," he added. "I would go for Alderweireld, all day long, because he is suited to the way United play.
"But it will take more than a quality defender to galvanise them, and this is where you have to respect Mourinho’s track record and his history of winning trophies.
"Do I think he will still be manager of Manchester United this time next year? Put it this way: I hope so, because if he is still there, it means they have been successful and won something.
"The talent at Mourinho’s disposal is undeniable. But can he get the best out of them, and play in a way that maximises their ability?"