Rio Ferdinand has already tipped United fiercest rivals – Manchester City and Liverpool to finish above Mourinho’s men this campaign.
Manchester United kick off the Premier League season against Leicester on Friday night with Mourinho still hoping to make one or two more signings before the transfer window closes.
And Old Trafford legend Ferdinand believes Mourinho has all it takes to make United formidable again.
BT Sport pundit Ferdinand said: “There seems to be a lot of negativity around United at the moment, and that doesn’t bode well.
“The manager is obviously not happy about the signings he hasn’t been able to make and not having certain players available on their pre-season tour, which isn’t nice to hear if you are a young kid trying to make your mark on the fringes of the squad.
“He seems to have put a nail in that coffin with the way he has spoken.
“And then there has been the saga of Anthony Martial going home from the tour in America and not coming back.
“In the meantime, Manchester City look stronger than ever and Liverpool have improved again.
“They have brought in a £60million goalkeeper, I think Naby Keita will make a great impact, we know of Xherdan Shaqiri’s quality, and they have added Fabinho to the mix as well.
“I’m a United fan, and I want to see them win the title, but I fear it’s going to be very difficult for that to happen this season.
“I can’t see past City and Liverpool as the top two — and to say that about the two clubs who wouldn’t be top of any United fan’s Christmas card list is horrendous.”
Manchester United has been linked with a couple of central defenders lately and could yet sign one before the transfer window shuts at 5pm on Thursday – and Ferdinand has tipped Spurs’ star Alderweireld because of his style of play.
He said: “Harry Maguire did great at the World Cup, but of the players potentially available he would not be my first choice. I would go for Alderweireld, all day long, because he is suited to the way United play.
“But it will take more than a quality defender to galvanise them, and this is where you have to respect Mourinho’s track record and his history of winning trophies.
“Do I think he will still be manager of Manchester United this time next year? Put it this way: I hope so, because if he is still there, it means they have been successful and won something.
“I wouldn’t write him off. He has won 20 trophies as a manager.
“He knows how to galvanise teams by instilling a siege mentality sometimes and he is going to need all his dark arts to create that atmosphere of ‘Manchester United against the world’ to make them formidable again.
“But it’s not just new signings that is going to be the catalyst. It’s the manager who sets the tone, and he’s got a few big issues to address.
“He’s got to get Paul Pogba to play for United the way he did for France at the World Cup.
“Some of that is down to Pogba himself, but Mourinho must give him the confidence to express himself and give him a platform to dominate.
“Then there is the conundrum of getting the best out of United’s forwards.
“Alexis Sanchez has been a shadow of the player he was at Arsenal, but he has had the summer off and he’s had time to bed in.
“In the season he arrived at Old Trafford, there was an argument for saying Martial was the most exciting teenager in world football, but he is going backwards. And you sense this is also a big year for Marcus Rashford.
“The talent at Mourinho’s disposal is undeniable. But can he get the best out of them, and play in a way that maximises their ability?
“It’s going to be a big ask for United to win the title, and I’m afraid I would be surprised if they made serious inroads in the Champions League as well.
“Liverpool surprised us last year, so it’s doable but the way United went out against Sevilla last year tells me they have a lot of room for improvement in Europe.”