QPR Defender Rio Ferdinand has backed his former employers Manchester United to finish in top three of English Premier League after overcoming a sticky start under new coach Louis van Gaal.

Louis van Gaal made a difficult start to his career at Manchester United but he now seems to have recovered as the Red Devils have won six of their last seven matches which has put them into the third place ahead of Newcastle United.

And Rio Ferdinand, who played at Manchester United for 12 years, is convinced that the revival of his former side will continue.

“Six weeks ago I think you’d be thinking hopefully they’d get in the Champions League,” Ferdinand said on Sky Sports News. “Looking at them now, I think they’ll finish definitely in third place, definite Champions League, then maybe they’ll get one of the cups.

“Third place at the moment. If they continue on the run they’re on, then who knows? They could go into second or first, but I think Champions League this season would have been something they were asking for and I think they’ll finish in that comfortably.”

Rio Ferdinand also backed Louis van Gaal to succeed at Manchester United in the longer run after a difficult start.

Ferdinand said: “Louis van Gaal had a sticky start, but the lads seem to be getting a better understanding of what he wants and you can see that in the results in the last six or seven games. Michael Carrick coming back has been a huge plus for them.”

Meanwhile Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal has given his players a Christmas off, which is a new thing in the Premier League and captain Wayne Rooney has thanked the Dutchman for his decision.

Manchester United host Newcastle United on Boxing Day as they look to maintain their recent good run of form, which has put them in the third spot.

Speaking about Louis van Gaal’s decision to give players a holiday on 25th, Rooney said: “We’re not training on Christmas Day this year because we’ll be spending it at home, which will be good for the foreign players and those of us with children.

“It must be strange for the new players to have more games than ever over Christmas, having had the time off previously. They have to adapt and be ready for it, while being aware of the fixture list. I’m sure they’ll be prepared for the upcoming games.”