Manchester United can challenge for title, says Rene Meulensteen

Rene Meulensteen believes Manchester United can challenge for the Premier League title if they do not get too far ahead of themselves.

It is an old football cliché, but Manchester United are buying into the ‘one game at a time’ approach at present.

The Red Devils must learn how to walk again before they can start to run, with the struggles of David Moyes having crippled a side unaccustomed to forming pack of the chasing pack.

There have been indications over recent weeks, though, that United are starting to up the pace and are ready to break back into full stride.

Louis van Gaal’s men remain a work in progress, with many results being ground out rather than eased to.

It was, however, a mark of the great Sir Alex Ferguson sides of days gone by that points could still be collected when United were not at their best – and the current crop are starting to do the same.

Four straight wins have them back among the Premier League’s top four and within eight points of unbeaten table-toppers Chelsea.

It may be slightly premature to break out talk of title challenges at Old Trafford but belief is slowly returning and if Van Gaal can enjoy a reversal in fortune on the injury front, anything is possible.

That is a belief shared by former United coach Rene Meulensteen, with a man who spent many years working alongside Ferguson seeing enough from the class of 2014 to suggest that they are back in contention for a 21st top-flight crown.

He told Sky Sports News: “It’s not too late. I would say it is maybe a little bit too early for that. I think it’s going to take some to catch Chelsea, because they look very, very strong. But, again, it’s a long season. It’s not even Christmas and the league will be decided coming into March, coming into April.

“They are starting to feel and buy into, day by day and week by week, what Louis van Gaal and the staff want from the players. You can hear from Louis speaking to the press and in his press conferences that he’s still not totally happy with what is happening, but they are winning games.

“I think yesterday was important, especially in the last few minutes to hang on, the chances that Stoke had. These wins show, and I’ve said it before, that United are still a team that can be beaten unless proved otherwise. That’s what they are doing at the moment – four wins and they have got two big games coming up in Southampton away and Liverpool. They have to take it week by week and game by game.”

Van Gaal must continue to urge caution with it possible that all of the optimism which has been building over recent weeks could be eroded during a testing run through to the end of the year.

Before United get to welcome in 2015, they will take in fixtures against Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur.

Only two of those games will be staged at the Theatre of Dreams, and it has been on the road this season that United have lost their way at times.

This is a time to focus on the positives, though, and if the Red Devils can enter the New Year with another 10 or so points added to their tally, then maybe it will be time to stop focusing on merely securing a return to Champions League competition and start setting their sights on the top prize.

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