Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard expects Manchester United's title challenge to fizzle out later in the season, but won't blame manager Jose Mourinho.
United are still second in the Premier League standings, but neighbours Manchester City are eight points ahead, while Tottenham are level and Chelsea just one point behind.
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Mourinho has faced criticism for his style this season, especially against top six rivals, with United falling eight points behind runaway leaders and rivals Manchester City. United have won just one of their past four league matches, having drawn with Liverpool (0-0) and lost to Chelsea (1-0).
The Old Trafford outfit have dropped points with two defeats (against Huddersfield and Chelsea) and a draw (against Liverpool) in recent weeks, and return to Premier League action after the international break to take on Newcastle United at Old Trafford next Saturday.
United (23 points) are back in the chasing pack, along with Tottenham (23), Chelsea (22), Liverpool (19) and Arsenal (19).
But according to the Express, Lampard believes it will be down to the quality of players if the Red Devils are unable to finish the season in top spot.
The ex-England international won back-to-back titles with Mourinho while at Chelsea in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and knows more than most what it takes to lift the trophy come May.
"Mourinho is a manager that likes to win and he has a way of winning. It's different to Pep Guardiola, different to Antonio Conte and that's his way," he told Omnisport, as reported by the Mirror.
"If Manchester United don't win the Premier League, for me it's the quality of the players.
"Manchester City have a very strong squad this year, Chelsea still have a very strong squad and I think particularly the first XI, if everybody's fit, Chelsea are very strong. When I look at Manchester United, they're there around that area, but maybe the other teams can be stronger.
"I certainly don't think it'll be the manager, and I actually do think that Manchester United will be competitive towards the end of the season, so we'll see."