Sir Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool will find it difficult to break back into the top four, and qualify for next season's Champions League.
Ferguson expects Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea to finish in the UEFA Champions League positions alongside his own United side.
He says it would also be wrong to rule out Everton or Tottenham Hotspur, while he recognises that Liverpool will be fighting hard.
However, Ferguson doubts their chances in their first season under Brendan Rodgers as he feels it can take time for a new boss to build a project.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's clash with Liverpool at Anfield, Ferguson said in The Sun: "The only place you can be now is that top four.
"You expect Arsenal and Chelsea to be better than last year.
"Arsenal's start has been very good. Ourselves and City are where we were last year. Those four will be the top four.
"I think Everton could, Tottenham could and will want to. But it's hard.
Liverpool have a new regime and it may take time to develop that. But they'll all be desperate to get in there.
"It's not easy starting at any club. You have to have your own philosophy. Sometimes you want to transfer players.
"It's all different circumstances. To go into a big club at a young age is difficult. It's a hard job."
United face a set of tricky fixtures in the next few weeks and Ferguson is keen to pick up three points at Anfield to keep up with the early Premier League leaders.
He added: "The home team have to make the running and the fans will be helping them.
"But we want to keep up at the top of the league and we are going into a difficult period now - Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal in the next few weeks. It would be nice to keep up there.
"We know what it takes to win at Anfield. We've had fantastic performances there. I've got the team I want playing, so that's good."