LONDON, September 11- Sir Alex Ferguson believes Tottenham are genuine top-four contenders as he prepares to take his Manchester side to White Hart Lane.
Harry Redknapp’s side have started the season with four straight wins and a string of imposing performances.
United, meanwhile, have stuttered to unconvincing wins over Arsenal and Birmingham, thumped Wigan and suffered a shock defeat at newly-promoted Burnley.
Much has been made of Manchester City’s prospects of pushing for the Champions League, but while Ferguson feels Everton and Aston Villa will once again be in contention, he thinks that Redknapp’s summer purchases could take Tottenham to another level.
He said: "They have had a fantastic start to the season, having watched a couple of their videos they are going to be a handful for us.
"Getting a good start is always important. Harry has brought in a few of his own type of players, players he is familiar with like (Peter) Crouch and (Jermain) Defoe.
"He’s now brought (Nico) Kranjcar from Portsmouth and bought (Wilson) Palacios from Wigan and I thought that was a good signing for him to bring that steel into midfield.
"There have really started well and there is a good degree of experience in the squad and he has a bigger squad than last year so he has a terrific chance of breaking into the top four.
"They and Manchester City have had good starts and I think those two are ahead of the rest at the moment.
"Everton have had a stuttering start to the season but they will come eventually and David (Moyes) will be a strong contender and Aston Villa, teams you sort of recognise as potential top fours teams. I don’t see anybody else apart from those."
Ferguson could be boosted in north London by the return of Rio Ferdinand, who has not featured so far due to a thigh problem that also ruled him out of England duty.
Gary Neville is back in training after a groin problem and is in contention but John O’Shea will miss the game due to a calf injury picked up during the international break with the Republic of Ireland.
O’Shea has become United’s regular right back but Ferguson insists he has plenty of cover.
He added: "He’s not trained and came back with a calf injury from their game against Cyprus I would imagine he will be doubtful for Saturday.
"Gary played in the reserves a week ago and he did well and he has trained everyday so he is definitely available, as is (fellow defender) Fabio da Silva.
"Wes Brown did not play for England obviously so he is available for us also. It is better than its been for the last few weeks or the last few months actually."
Ferguson is full of praise for Redknapp’s expertise in the transfer market and the Spurs manager has also declared himself satisfied with his pre-deadline dealing.
Among those captures was Crouch, who joined from Portsmouth and has scored two goals in five appearances.
Crouch, who struggled to get regular football at previous club Liverpool, has yet to start a Premier League match but Redknapp is full of praise for his character.
"Peter Crouch has been great since he has arrived. It has not been easy for him. He has come in here and he didn’t start the first few games but has come off the bench and shown a fantastic attitude.
"He hasn’t sat about sulking, feeling sorry for himself, he has trained well, he’s been good around the dressing room, he’s been part of the team and they are the type of people you need.
"Crouchy has shown why he is such a popular lad and a good pro. He has worked hard. His chance is going to come soon and when it does he is going to be a real threat to everybody."
Redknapp is hopeful that Sebastien Bassong can overcome a knee injury that kept him out of Cameroon’s midweek match with Gabon but Ledley King should return from a groin problem.