The Red Devils only finished sixth in the Premier League last season after an inconsistent league campaign, though they qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League.
Jose Mourinho has since strengthened his side with the signings of Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic this summer, though Nicol is unconvinced it’ll be enough to turn them into title favourites.
Speaking about the title 2017/18 title race, the former Liverpool star said United were sure to get back into the top four, but that Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham were ahead of them in the title running.
Liverpool took the final top four spot last season, but Nicol’s current prediction of where the teams are would have them dropping out of the Champions League places and Arsenal failing to make it for a second year in a row.
‘I think no question they (United) get in the top four,’ Nicol told ESPN.
Premier League 2017/18 opening day fixtures
Friday 11 August
Arsenal v Leicester – 19.45
Saturday 12 August
Watford v Liverpool – 12.30
Chelsea v Burnley – 15.00
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield – 15.00
Everton v Stoke City – 15.00
Southampton v Swansea City – 15.00
West Brom v Bournemouth – 15.00
Brighton v Manchester City – 17.30
Sunday 13 August
Newcastle v Tottenham – 13.30
Manchester United v West Ham – 16.00
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‘I’m sure that top four isn’t Mourinho’s ambition. I’m certainly sure it isn’t the board or the owner’s ambition.
‘But the fact is that for me City are ahead of this team, Chelsea the defending champions are ahead and Spurs, you can’t count them out. They’ve been as consistent in the Premier League over the last two or three season as any other team without winning the Premier League.
‘So Man United definitely top four but one of the favourites for the Premier League? I don’t think so.’