Wes Brown has expressed his belief that Manchester United can finish above Manchester City and win the Premier League this season.
United find themselves in a strong position in the top flight heading into Christmas period, despite having flattered to deceive with a string of unconvincing performances.
A 3-1 win away at West Ham last week epitomised all that has been good and bad about the Red Devils in recent months, with a stunning attacking display in the second period ultimately making up for a terrible first-half showing.
That result saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side rise to sixth in the standings with a game in hand on all five teams above them, but a disappointing Champions League defeat at the hands of RB Leipzig on Tuesday brought them crashing back down to earth.
United will be looking to bounce back from an early European exit when they take on City in the Manchester derby on Saturday, with the Sky Blues currently sitting just a point behind their local rivals in the table having played the same number of fixtures.
Brown is optimistic that his old club can get one over on City come the end of the season, and has also backed them to silence their critics by going onto lift the Premier League trophy for the first time since 2012-13 - providing they can put together a consistent run of form at home.
“The way the season has gone so far, I think Man United could finish above Man City. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still going to be tough, and there are probably six – not Arsenal – teams in there that’ll be fighting for the title," the former Red Devils defender told Ladbrokes.
“I don’t see why United can’t finish above City and win the league, just based on how the season has gone so far.
“United came top four last season when nobody thought they would, so sometimes you have to give them credit where it’s due.
“More consistency in the Premier League is all I’d ask for – at home, especially. Put together a six or seven-game run at Old Trafford and I don’t think anyone can have any questions about whether or not you’re genuine title contenders.”
Speculation over Solskjaer's position at the Theatre of Dreams has been raging in the wake of United's Champions League failure, but Brown is still certain his ex-team-mate is the right man to take the club forward.
“He’ll always get stick in the media, but he knows what he’s doing. He’s doing his thing, he’s getting the players playing the way he wants them to," he added.
“He’s trying to build a really strong squad, because you need exactly that in this league with so many competitions you’re playing in.
“Ole gets a lot of criticism, but that’s Manchester United for you. If you do get beat, you’re going to get stick, and if you win, you’re going to get praise.
“Ole understands the club. He’s been a manager for a while now and he knows where he wants to put the club, back where it belongs. We all understand that doesn’t just happen overnight."