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John Barnes Doubts Manchester United’s Title Contender Status

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The Liverpool legend believes the battle for the Premier League is still between Liverpool and Manchester City

Liverpool Pre-Season Tour to Hong Kong Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool vs Manchester United is always one of the biggest, most scrutinized Premier League fixtures of the season. It carries additional gravitas when England’s two most successful clubs occupy the top two spots in the table as they will when they kickoff at Anfield on Sunday.

Before the season began, not many would have predicted that United would sit three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table for their first meeting, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team is piling up the points as Liverpool and Manchester City both struggle to live up to their billing as the clear favorites to challenge for the title.

Despite United’s table position and superior recent form, John Barnes is not convinced that they can truly be considered title contenders just yet. In a recent interview with BonusBetCodes, the Liverpool legend made it clear he believes only one Manchester club can stop the Reds from defending their Premier League title.

“Liverpool are not in direct competition with Manchester United in my opinion. Liverpool are only in competition with Manchester City for the title,” said Barnes.

“There is of course competition because it’s Liverpool vs Manchester United and all of the history that comes with it, they are the two biggest clubs in the Premier League. But in reality, in terms of the favorites to win the league, it is whoever finishes higher than Liverpool or Manchester City.”

The former Liverpool winger did give the Red’s rivals credit for not allowing their league form to dip after being bounced from the Champions League and League Cup, but their previous failures to find consistency under Solskjaer and the drama behind the scenes give him pause when considering their title contender resume.

“It’s good for Manchester United that even after getting knocked out of the League Cup by or not progressing in the Champions League that they’re actually managing some consistency in the league,” Barnes said.

“But of course, that can change if they (Manchester United) lose one or two matches because we still understand that the harmony of Manchester United isn’t completely right. There are question marks about Pogba, is Ole the right manager for them, we still aren’t sure.”

Though their current run of 11 league matches without a loss is impressive, the former England international thinks United need to rally behind Solskjaer and find a way to avoid the off the pitch issues that have plagued them in recent years if they wish to finish ahead of Liverpool and City.

“If Manchester United really wanted to make a big push, they should all get behind the manager and support the cause, because they haven’t done that. Bad news stories have to stop coming out to Manchester United for them to maintain further consistency.”