MANCHESTER, England (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United will face a stern test from Chelsea for the title following Carlo Ancelotti's appointment at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea finished seven points adrift of champions United last season after starting the season with Luiz Felipe Scolari at the helm and ending it with Guus Hiddink in temporary charge.
Hiddink has since left to concentrate on his role as coach of Russia with Ancelotti, who steered AC Milan to two Champions League triumphs, the new man in charge.
Ferguson faces Ancelotti in Sunday's Community Shield - the traditional curtain raiser to the new season - when the Premier League champions face FA Cup winners Chelsea.
The United boss said he respected Ancelotti and expects the Italian to be a success at Chelsea.
Ferguson also believes that Chelsea's decision to reject offers from Manchester City this summer for John Terry will also aid the London club.
"Carlo will take up the baton from Guus Hiddink," said Ferguson on Friday.
"Although Carlo has his own system of playing, which he used at AC Milan for 20 years, with a diamond in the middle, Chelsea have a lot of experience and a lot of terrific players.
"Chelsea will be strong."
Ferguson added: "Keeping John Terry will make them stronger, no doubt about that.
"He's experienced, he's England's captain and he's a good centre half."
United are chasing a fourth straight title this season yet have been overshadowed by neighbours Manchester City in the transfer market this summer.
While City have spent around 100 million pounds (167 million dollars) on new players, United have invested 20 million (33.4 million dollars).
Ferguson is intrigued to discover how City will get on this season but does not expect them to break into the top four.
"I think ourselves, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are looking at what is happening at Manchester City with great interest," added Ferguson.
"We're all looking to see whether it will work or not after the money they have spent.
"There's a lot of interest in that from all of us.
"It's difficult to break into the top four with the consistency and quality that the top four have got.
"Don't forget that over the last few years those teams have competed in semi-finals and finals of the European Cup.
"It's a great consistency that.
"They're talking about Barcelona and Real Madrid starting to dominate again (in europe) but I have my doubts on that.
"I think those four (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal) are strong teams."
United will be without Nemanja Vidic for the first two games of the season against Birmingham and Burnley because of a calf injury.