Luke Shaw thinks it would be foolish to write Manchester United’s title chances off just yet.
With nine games gone, United are eighth in the Barclays Premier League, some 10 points off the summit.
Shaw has been encouraged by the team’s performance in the 1-1 draw against leaders Chelsea though, and he believes he and his team-mates are still playing below their potential.
The former Southampton player thinks when United hit top gear they will strike fear into the hearts of their opponents and that is why he refuses to give up hope of topping the table come May.
“Of course we are still in the title race,” the United defender said.
“It’s a long season and we are at the start of it. You don’t know what will happen during the middle of the season.
“We just have to keep winning the games coming up. There will be tough games but we know we are good enough to win them
“We know we have still got the best to come. I don’t think we are playing our best at the moment and sometimes you saw that against Chelsea.
“It will take time but when we are all on form I think we are going to be a scary team to face.”
Although Chelsea top the table, arguably the biggest test for Shaw and his United team-mates will come on Sunday when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on bitter rivals Manchester City.
If – as is expected – Radamel Falcao recovers from a leg injury he sustained in training, and Ander Herrera returns to the starting XI, United will have six players in their team who have never experienced a Manchester derby before.
Each and every one of them will be acutely aware of what the fixture means to the fans, Shaw says.
“It’s pretty obvious what this match means to the fans and the club. I don’t think I need to be told about it and the other (new signings) will be aware too,” the Surrey-born teenager said.
“I’ve watched it for the past years and I’ve seen how much it means to everyone.
“It’s one of the biggest occasions in football after the World Cups and Champions League finals.
“It’s a massive occasion for everyone involved in it. We need to come out firing on Sunday.”
Shaw picks out United’s 2-1 victory over City in 2011 as his favourite Manchester derby.
That day Wayne Rooney scored the most memorable goal of his career – an acrobatic overhead kick which sealed victory for United with 12 minutes left.
Rooney has sat out the last three games due to suspension so Shaw thinks the striker will be itching to put on another match-winning display when he returns this weekend.
“It’s a massive boost for us to have him back,” Shaw said.
“It’s something I think he’s looking forward to. Wayne hates sitting on the sidelines watching.
“That goal (in 2011) was an unbelievable goal in a match that big. It was something special.”
Shaw revealed his father Paul was in the stands at Old Trafford on Sunday to watch the 1-1 stalemate with Chelsea.
Shaw senior used to take his son to Stamford Bridge to watch the Blues, but the Londoner is now very much a red, according to the England full-back.
“My dad is a United fan now. He’s not Chelsea any more,” Shaw said with a smile.
“He is a United fan now and he won’t be too happy (with Sunday’s result) because he wanted us to win really badly.”