Pep Guardiola says Manchester United are “finally” ready to challenge at the top of the Premier League again under Erik ten Hag.
Guardiola is trying to make City only the second side - after United - to win three consecutive titles in the Premier League era.
But he said the task has only grown harder with the likes of United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle all scrapping for top-four places.
And Guardiola expects United, who have taken 20 points from a possible 27 since suffering back-to-back defeats at the start of the campaign, to challenge all the way.
"I have the feeling United are coming back, finally United is coming back," Guardiola said. "I've seen it on Thursday (the 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol), and against Chelsea in the first half (of the 1-1 draw last weekend).
"I said I like what I see of United right now. There will be a lot of teams like United fighting. That's why you have to fight to qualify for the Champions League and fight for the title."
Meanwhile, Guardiola believes the upcoming World Cup is in players' minds as they try to avoid injury amidst a congested schedule for their clubs.
Manchester United's Raphael Varane left the field in tears when the France centre-back suffered a muscle injury against Chelsea last week.
The majority of Premier League clubs playing in Europe are in the middle of a run of 13 games in a maximum of 42 days.
"I am pretty sure they have one eye on the World Cup," said Guardiola.
"Unfortunately many players got injured and will miss the World Cup. It's a big blow for them.
"Now it is just two or three weeks before the end, so it is the last effort. I always say the best way to not get injured is to be focused and give your maximum in the game. When you lose the attention is when you are at risk."