Michael Carrick believes that next season the title race could be wide open after suggesting that as many as five sides will be competing with Manchester United for the Premier League title.
Having won the title with relative ease last season, Carrick is expecting a much tougher challenge after a summer of change that has seen United, Manchester City and Chelsea all appoint new managers.
Arsenal are hoping to once again challenge after a strong end to the season, while Tottenham will be looking to improve on an impressive first campaign under Andre Villas-Boas. With Liverpool making four signings already this summer, there is optimism amongst the contenders.
And Carrick believes that Manchester United will face a fierce battle to retain their Premier League crown.
"Every year there's fresh optimism around the league and people want it to be the most exciting league ever," Carrick told reporters during a press conference out in Australia.
"In the end, over the last few years, similar teams have been up there. With us, Manchester City and Chelsea changing managers there's a different feel about it.
"They're all strong squads and the best teams come to the top. We believe we'll be right up there but it's certainly going to be tough. There are probably five or six teams now that fancy their chances for the title or the top two or three. We'll have to be as good, if not better than ever."
United are currently in Sydney preparing for Saturday's game with the Australian A League All-Stars and having lost their opening pre-season game to a Singha All-Star XI in Thailand, Carrick is keen to get back to winning ways.
"There are always expectation from ourselves to play well and to win games no matter where we play or whatever the last game was.," added Carrick.
"We don't like losing; we hate losing. It wasn't nice to come away from the last game with a defeat. All-in-all, we take what we can from the game, some of us got 90 minutes and it was the first game back."