It seems crazy that a team that has only won one of six home Premier League games is talking and thinking about winning the title, but that is what appears to be the case at Manchester United.
Goalkeeper David de Gea lit the blue touchpaper this week after the Manchester derby, saying ‘Now I think, this year, the Premier League is very open, many teams are fighting for the title.
‘We have to dream, we have to believe that we can win the Premier League this year and go for it.
‘It’s a very strange season. To be honest, there are many teams fighting for the top place, so I think we need to be very focused every game and try to win the Premier League.’
Fans are currently divided as to whether the glass is half empty or half full at Old Trafford. Some see a side that lies ninth in the table, who in their first eleven have already lost as many games as Sir Alex Ferguson’s treble-winning side lost in an entire campaign. They see dreadful inconsistencies and performances, shambolic defending and poor investment in the squad.
Others see a young side that will be just two points behind league leaders Liverpool if they win their games in hand, a team that has won every single Premier League away game they have played this season, one which is in that position despite not yet even finding their best form this season and one with the history and self-belief that can help to win titles.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer definitely belongs to the second camp.
‘I’d be disappointed if the players didn’t think we can put a challenge up,’ he said at yesterday’s press conference.
‘At the moment, anything goes in the league. There’s different reasons for different results, I feel we’re getting better but we have to improve quite a bit to take that next step as well.’
The manager believes that the forthcoming period will give a better indication as to whether United really can challenge for the title or not.
‘This is a big run of games for us. After the Villa game on New Year’s Day, we have a little bit of a break in the league. This period is going to be vital and it’ll be easier for me to answer about the season around that time.
‘This season is going to be very unpredictable and up and down. Whoever finds the consistency and the energy will have a better chance than in the last few seasons, because there’s been a few runaway teams.”
‘For us, the quicker we can get the game in hand against Burnley played the better so that the league table looks as it should be.’
In the period Solskjaer describes, United play away at bottom side Sheffield United, at home to Leeds and away to Leicester before finishing with two home games to Wolves and Villa.
If the Red Devils are to be serious title contenders, they have to aspire to taking at least eleven points from those five games.
As Solskjaer said, the key to winning the title is consistency and that is one of the things that his United side have failed to deliver since he took charge two years ago. Few would argue that on their day, this United team are capable of beating anyone.
Edinson Cavani has made quite an impact since his deadline day arrival at Old Trafford, but how much do you know about our other South American players, past and present? Take our quiz below to find out!