Manchester United fans went into the 2023/24 season hoping to see the team mount a serious challenge for major silverware.
The Red Devils ended a six-year trophy by winning the League Cup last term, sparking talk that the club was finally re-emerging as a force in English football.
Their third-place finish in the Premier League also demonstrated signs of improvement, which manager Erik ten Hag is keen to build on.
However, the early part of the season has not gone to plan, with United picking up just six points from a possible 12 in the Premier League to date.
Online bookmakers have reacted to their stuttering form by pushing United down to odds of 15/8 to secure another top-four finish this season, behind several teams that finished below United last season.
That price looks pretty good value and may well persuade punters to access the best betting offers to wager on United to get the job done, despite the slow start.
The latest odds in the ‘top four finish’ market suggest Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are nailed on to fill three of the four places.
However, an argument can be made to say that only Man City look completely assured of their place in the Premier League’s top four.
Pep Guardiola’s squad still looks a cut above the rest and it would be a shock of seismic proportions if they failed to be in the title mix this term.
Arsenal and Liverpool will fancy their chances having each made a strong start to the season, but it would be unwise for them to get too carried away.
The Gunners have splashed the cash this summer in their pursuit of silverware, but the jury remains out on their big-money acquisitions.
Declan Rice has been the pick of the bunch to date, but it is much too early to be getting carried away with a player who has previously gone missing in pressure situations.
Fans using sports betting offers to wager on Liverpool to finish in the top four would also be well advised not to overestimate their early season form.
The Reds still look a little shaky at the back, while their newly revamped midfield will need a few more weeks to settle into a rhythm.
Despite those doubts, United are effectively battling with several other clubs for the remaining top four spot if the bookies have got it right with their prediction.
Tottenham Hotspur’s improvement under new manager Ange Postecoglou has fired them into the conversation and they could be dangerous as the season progresses.
The early signs suggest Spurs will be a better team without Harry Kane in their ranks – a factor that would have been unthinkable before the season started.
Postecoglou’s ability to maximise the resources at his disposal should keep Spurs in contention for European qualification, but the top four may be beyond them.
Newcastle United have also been touted as top four contenders after finishing fourth last term, but they have started the new campaign poorly.
Using betting offers to wager on them climbing into the top four is risky, particularly with question marks hanging over manager Eddie Howe.
The pressure is on the former Bournemouth boss to prove last season was not a fluke and the weight of expectation may become too much to bear.
Chelsea are another team expected to be in the mix following their outlandish spending over the past few transfer windows.
A record of one win in the opening four games has not dampened the bookies’ enthusiasm for their chances, but using a betting bonus to wager on them is fraught with danger.
New manager Mauricio Pochettino has been at pains to point out he is embarking on a new project, yet the trigger-happy owners will not like what they have seen to date.
Of all the potential top four contenders this season, Brighton & Hove Albion could be the ones who give United the biggest headache.
The Seagulls are one of the best run clubs in the top flight, with their famed player trading model not hindering their hopes of making progress.
Several sportsbooks have betting promotions on the top four race which have boosted Brighton’s odds to 7/2 and that could be worth an interest.
With teenage striker Evan Ferguson already on his way to being the ‘next big thing’ in the Premier League, the south coast club could mount a strong bid to finish in the top four.
However, given the squad Ten Hag has at his disposal, it would be a major disappointment if his team fail to grab one of the coveted spots.
While a title challenge is probably too much to ask, United look a great bet at 15/8 to secure another top four finish.