Roy Keane has warned Manchester City to write off Alex Ferguson at their peril.
Keane said City were worthy champions but to expect Manchester United to bounce back even stronger – and that his old United boss Ferguson will still be around for years to come.
“Never write off United. Never doubt United,” said Keane.
“United always bounce back. It’s in the nature of the club. They will probably buy one or two players, which they probably would have done even if they had won the league, and it’s exciting for the people of Manchester.
“Sunday was a hard one for them to take, but I think United fans will actually enjoy that challenge because the games are closer.”
Ferguson may have turned 70 but Keane believes the challenge of taking on City will inspire his old manager to new achievements – and that he has seen off all other challengers in the past.
Keane added: “When you are a manager in sport at the top level, the challenges will drive you on to another level and United have always responded.
“Going back over donkey’s years when Blackburn had a decent spell, Arsenal, look at them they haven’t won anything for seven years now, Chelsea, they are coming back a little bit now. Liverpool, look where they are now.
“United will enjoy that challenge. And you can see that in his eyes.
“People have written him off a few years ago when Chelsea won the league a couple of years running, saying he was finished, but he is still going strong.
“He will want to go out on a winning note but just listening to him and watching him he will go on for a few years yet.
“If they win the league next year, or the Champions League I think he will carry on.
“Listen, there were disappointments in Europe and the Cup.
“But they won the league on goal difference and all of a sudden we are saying how brilliant Man City are.
“It was goal difference. There are fine lines at this level.”
Meanwhile, Keane, speaking at ITV Sport’s Euro 2012 launch, said he could understand why former team-mate Rio Ferdinand was gutted to miss out on being picked for the England squad for the tournament.
“If I was Rio I would be really disappointed,” he said.
“His form has been decent for United, there was talk about injuries and could he play in the games? Of course he could have. There is going to be plenty of rest before it.
“You can see why Rio is saying he is devastated, but also I can see Roy Hodgson’s point of view because you can only pick so many players.
“If there was any doubt about his fitness maybe, then I can understand that as well. But it must be hard for him to take.
“Personally, I would have taken Rio and John Terry as well but there are issues going on there which we do not know much about, and if there are any problems between the players in the squad, that can affect people.
“That said, there were a lot of problems with England at the last tournament, but none before they went out there.
“Roy Hodgson has made the call, whether you like it or not, he has named 23 and said ’this is it’.”