Wayne Rooney believes his former side Manchester United will win the Premier League this season – and has been confident of that for six weeks.
United have now played half of their Premier League matches for the 2020-21 season and currently top the table.
It seems the club are in their strongest position to challenge for the title since they last won it in 2012-13, in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge.
Current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer maintains that nobody at the club is thinking about the title yet and they are taking things one game at a time.
Indeed, if they are to win the title, they will have to distance themselves from rivals Liverpool and Manchester City – and possibly other contenders like Leicester and Tottenham.
But they will certainly have been boosted by Liverpool’s shock 1-0 defeat to Burnley on Thursday. The reigning champions are six points behind United after 19 games.
And Rooney – who recently took charge of Derby County on a permanent basis – believes his old club have what it takes to get over the line.
He told Sky Sports: “In the last few years Manchester United haven’t been ready to challenge for the title. But now they’ve built a strong of players.
“[Bruno] Fernandes coming in has helped massively. [Edinson] Cavani, with that winning mentality, has helped massively. Now the squad is challenging for a Premier League title.
“I said six weeks ago to the coaches in the office that I thought Manchester United would win the league and I still think that today.
“Paul Pogba will have a massive part to play in that. They’ve brought players in with winning mentalities and now Paul can do what he does best and show his quality on the pitch.”
The six-week timeframe Rooney nodded to would indicate he has been confident of their success ever since their elimination from the Champions League.
Six weeks have passed since United dropped out of the competition in the group stage. Since then, they have responded brilliantly – only losing one of their following 12 games in all competitions.
That spell has included draws with City and Liverpool in the Premier League, a thrasing of Leeds, and most recently, a comeback win over Fulham.
Confidence growing at Old Trafford
Rooney is not the only United old boy who has tipped the club to get their hands back on the Premier League trophy this season.
Former defender Phil Neville – who is also now in a coaching career – said towards the end of December that United’s challenge for the title would not fade.
“There’s no reason why they can’t sustain this,” he said after their win over Wolves on December 29th. “Ole has spoken about them being more robust – you can see that, the last 20 minutes you could just smell that they started to believe something might happen.
“That’s what the best teams have. They’ve got to sustain that, keep that level of consistency but I do think they can maintain that for the rest of the season and challenge Liverpool who at this moment of time have got injuries and could slip up.”