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Martinez believes United will be title challengers again next season


(Tonight, 11.10pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has no doubt Manchester United will be Premier League title challengers again next season.

David Moyes makes his first return to Goodison Park as United manager tonight (Singapore time) for a match that could go a long way to deciding the Champions League qualifiers.

But it is Everton, the club he left after 11 years in charge last summer, who are fighting for the top four while United languish in seventh place.

Martinez still puts them in the fight for fourth, even though United are 10 points adrift of current incumbents Arsenal with only five games to play.

And asked if he expected United to be in the mix next season, the Toffees boss said: "You have to because of the history, the finances, the expectations.

"Manchester United will finish the season strong, I've got no doubts about that. Their next few games, I'm sure they're going to fight for a European place and to finish as high as they can.

"Even at this stage, they should be fighting for fourth place. It's ingrained in the DNA of Manchester United. It's not in doubt that they will be doing that and they will be challenging for the title next season.

"I expect Spurs as well to be fighting for the top four. When we started the season there were six football clubs who, purely down to the finances, were forced to fight for the title. We gatecrashed the party."

While Martinez is optimistic about United's chances to return to the top table next season, former Everton player Phil Neville questioned the Toffees' chances of snatching a Champions League spot for next season.

Neville believes Everton's 3-2 defeat by Crystal Palace on Wednesday shows that they are struggling to cope with the demands of being touted as a serious top-four contender.

"Everton were the team that were in control of their own destiny. But it's a different kind of pressure when you have to go out there and win games, so Everton are under that pressure now," the United coach told Football Focus.

"You saw it with the result against Crystal Palace.

"Can they handle the pressure when it's on them and they have to win games?

"We know we have got to win but the pressure is on Everton to beat us. We can go there and enjoy the occasion.

"And at this stage of the season, if you slip up once it's very difficult to recover from that and we hope that is the case with Everton." - PA Sport.

Can they handle the pressure when it’s on them and they have to win games? We know we have got to win but the pressure is on Everton to beat us. We can go there and enjoy the occasion.

— Manchester United coach Phil Neville