Sir Alex Ferguson: Wayne Rooney can find form in open Premier League race

NEW YORK -- Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United have a chance to win the Premier League this season and has backed Wayne Rooney to rediscover his best form.

In an exclusive interview with ESPN FC, the former Old Trafford boss said that the inconsistent form shown by many clubs in the early part of the campaign means that the title race is wide open.

"It's that kind of league, anyone can win it now. Leicester are the most consistent -- they've only lost one game. If we get to New Year up near the top, we'll have a good chance," said Ferguson, who was in New York to promote his new book, "Leading".

Louis van Gaal's side currently lie third, two points behind leaders Manchester City and Ferguson is hopeful that the current squad can come together in time to challenge for honours this season, though he cautions that it should not be taken for granted.

"[Van Gaal has] certainly made a lot of changes and he's bought (six) new players this year and, I think, five or six new players the year before," said Ferguson. "That takes time and it's not easy. Coming to Manchester United, you do need time. In my time, there was maybe Dwight Yorke who gave an immediate response -- he was fantastic from day one. They are not always like that; he was an exception. It normally takes some time, particularly if they come from abroad, to settle in."

While many of the players Ferguson signed have left the club since he retired in 2013, one who remains is Wayne Rooney. The 29-year-old has struggled for consistency so far this season and has just one Premier League goal, but his former manager believes Rooney's confidence will soon return and goals will follow.

"All the strikers I had, everyone relied on their confidence," Ferguson told ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop. "When they were scoring they think they can never stop, when they're not scoring they think they're never going get a goal, it's a fact. When I was a striker I was the same; my dad used to say make sure you hit the ball, don't try and pass it in the net. Eric Cantona had it, [Ruud] van Nistelrooy had it, [Andy] Cole had it and then the rich stream comes along again and they're back to normal. I think we'll have to wait, it'll happen. [Rooney will] go on a run, don't worry about that."

Rooney missed both of England's recent games with an ankle injury but is expected to be fit for United's visit to his former club Everton on Saturday and will be expected to captain United if he starts. Ferguson has long seen leadership qualities in the forward and believes that his senior status at the club adds to his suitability to be captain.

"Wayne was a typical English player, determined when he came to United, so it's not a surprise that he is the captain," said Ferguson. "Plus, there's the longevity he's been there, over 10 years, so that all works into the way United work. If my captains were injured, it was always the case that the most senior players who became captain."