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Manchester United title contenders for first time in four years - Gary Neville

Gary Neville spoke at the opening of Salford's new stadium about how Manchester United are title contenders for the first time in four years.
As rumours continue to swirl about Mesut Ozil's future, Man United has reportedly become the top destination for the playmaker.

Manchester United look like Premier League title challengers for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, former United defender Gary Neville has told ESPN FC.

Neville said he predicted a title showdown between Jose Mourinho and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola this season.

United have not finished higher than fourth since the Ferguson era ended in 2013, with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failing to land the club's 21st top-flight championship.

Mourinho has won the title in his second season at Porto, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and twice at Chelsea, and with 20 points from eight games this season could repeat the trick at Old Trafford.

United are two points behind City at the top of the table, and Neville said: "There's consistency, definitely.

"There's strength, there's power, they're tough to beat, there are a lot of very good things.

"This season will be a big challenge to win the league, City are looking fantastic.

"But there's something there that tells me they are capable of winning the league, and I've not seen that for the last three or four years. I've not seen a team capable of challenging, let alone winning it.

"What I'm seeing now is a team that's consistent, a team that's hard to beat, that defends well and has got goals in it, so it's got all the credentials."

Jose Mourinho has Manchester United second in the Premier League.

The table has a familiar look after eight matches, with Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool among the frontrunners.

Neville, however, feels Mourinho and Guardiola will end up going toe-to-toe, as they did when managing Real Madrid and Barcelona.

"It's looking that way," he said at an event held to rename Salford City's ground the Peninsula Stadium, attended with fellow club owners Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

"They look like the two. I love watching Tottenham, but have they got the depth to challenge United and City this season? I'm not sure.

"Arsenal? No. Chelsea look like they're in a difficult moment and Liverpool are not quite there, either. So it is United and City.

"At the moment, City are looking in the better form -- but United have got the maturity and I'm sure they will get through the winter months well, which can be key."

After averaging three goals a game in the league at the start of the season, Mourinho came under fire following the 0-0 draw at Liverpool for what some saw as negative football.

Neville, however, said: "If we left Anfield with a point, particularly early in the season, we'd be delighted. The disappointment wasn't just with United -- it was with Liverpool as well.

"They didn't really commit to the game in the second half like they could have done if they were really going for the win."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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