Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has identified three problem players for the club at the moment after a blip in form.
The Red Devils had started to look like Premier League title contenders this season after a surprise run saw them climb to the top of the table recently as their rivals struggled.
However, United have suffered some unwanted results more recently, losing 2-1 at home to Sheffield United last week and then drawing 0-0 with Arsenal at the weekend.
This has allowed rivals Manchester City and Liverpool back into it, though Chadwick has one reason to be optimistic that things could still change for his old club.
The pundit noted that the front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have been in much worse form than towards the end of last season, so the picture could look very different if they get back to their best, with the team still close to the top despite their lack of goals recently.
“What a difference a week can make in football,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside. “This time last week United had beaten Liverpool in the FA Cup and were in a really good place in the league. Then the Sheffield United performance was lacklustre to say the least. Quite similar to a lot of games at the start of the season, the Crystal Palace game springs to mind, when they were out-worked all over the pitch and not creating enough in higher areas.
“You felt when the equaliser came through a good header by Harry Maguire that United would go on and win the game, but obviously Sheffield United scored again. There was little creativity from United and it was a kick in the teeth really. When you’re top of the league at home against a team bottom of the league, if you want to win titles, those are the games you have to win.
“Things have certainly turned against the club in terms of winning the title. City are in a really good place, Liverpool have got over that little run, so those two will be favourites above United now. Obviously they play each other next week and if they draw that helps United out, but there’s been a lack of tempo really. United-Arsenal games in the past, that’s one thing that was never missing, it was a strange game played at quite a slow pace. Arsenal probably had the best chances, but a draw was a fair result. A really disappointing game of football, just like the Liverpool-United game a few weeks ago.
“Obviously he (Bruno Fernandes) is the main player, the best player in the team. It’s magnified when he’s not at his very best when others are also struggling. Marcus Rashford’s not at his very best at the moment, Anthony Martial’s been disappointing for the last couple of months or so.
“They need to get the ball into Edinson Cavani in those dangerous areas in the box to be more effective. As well as Fernandes not being at his best, Rashford not being at his best – the two of them struggling at the same time makes it harder for United to score goals. They’re the biggest part of United’s attacking play.
“Goals are what win games, goals are what win championships. Those three players (Rashford, Martial and Greenwood) were on absolute fire at the end of last season, with the amount of goals, and assists and the way they were playing together. The three of them have gone through a blip at the same time, though Rashford tends to offer a bit more even when he’s not scoring goals. He offers other things to the team by stretching teams and assisting other players.
“It is a concern, it’s incredible to think about their stats over the last ten games that United are still up there near the top of the league, it’s remarkable they’re still hanging in there when their three main goal scorers are on such a bad run. It goes to prove how important Bruno Fernandes has been – without them scoring, his goals have kept them in the hunt.
“It’s going to be a big ask to win the league from here, but if those three recapture the form from last season you could see them going on a run and being up there with a chance of winning the league.”