Michael Carrick believes there could be a six-horse title race this season and warned his Manchester United team-mates that they may have to improve to retain their Premier League crown.
The midfielder has helped United win the league five times in his seven seasons at Old Trafford and, as he noted, their only real competition in the last four years has come from Chelsea and Manchester City.
But he hinted that he expects Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool to challenge by predicting a different title race in 2013-14.
He said: "In the end, the last few years, it’s been similar teams up there with us. City and Chelsea changing managers, there is a different feel about it, but its strong squads and the best teams that come to the top and hopefully we will be right up there.
"It’s certainly going to be tough because there are five or six teams now that fancy their chances at the title or certainly the top two or three, so we will have to be as good if not better than ever."
Carrick is in Australia, preparing for Saturday’s pre-season meeting with the Australian A-League All Stars.
United lost their first game under David Moyes, against a Singha All-Star XI in Thailand, and Carrick is determined to get back to winning ways, adding: “There are always expectations from ourselves to play well and to win games no matter where we play or whatever the last game was.
"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.”