Former England international midfielder Owen Hargreaves believes that Manchester United will finish third this season behind Chelsea and Manchester City.
The Red Devils started the season poorly, winning just one of their first five matches and crashing out of the League Cup with an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at League One outfit MK Dons.
Many predicted an initial struggle for new United boss Louis van Gaal, but even the Dutchman will not have forecast such a slow start.
Since the turn of October, however, the Old Trafford outfit have surged up the table and now find themselves in third spot, eight points behind league leaders Chelsea.
While the title still remains a possibility, a return to the Champions League via a top-four finish is the club’s number one priority, and Hargreaves believes that his former side will achieve that goal come next May.
"I think they'll be happy with Champions League football because I think the other teams in and around are struggling considerably, I mean Arsenal, Liverpool,” he told The Independent.
“I think they'll finish third. I think Chelsea will win the league and Manchester City will push them close. United will finish third and Arsenal probably fourth.”
Optimism around Old Trafford has increased over the past month as a result of a fantastic six-game winning streak which included victories over rivals Arsenal and Liverpool.
However, performances are still inconsistent and Hargreaves believes that the euphoria and sense of invincibility which previously surrounded the club won’t return until the team start winning well.
"I think it's great that they're winning games, that's the most important thing. But you've got to be a little bit concerned, Van Gaal and the fans, that you're not really, your winning but not playing great,” he added.
“I think when you play great and you're winning like Chelsea then everyone's happy. But I think they realise that they haven't been at their best.”