Wayne Rooney says he expects Manchester United to win the Premier League title this season.
United, who last won the title in 2013 in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season with the club, returned to the top of the league on Wednesday night with a 2-1 comeback win over Fulham, extending their unbeaten away run to 17 games.
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It has been a dramatic turnaround for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side - having finished 33 points behind champions Liverpool last season - and Rooney puts a lot of that down to the signings of Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani.
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Derby manager Rooney, a five-time Premier League winner at Old Trafford, feels the new arrivals have restored a winning mentality to the club and given Paul Pogba the freedom to finally flourish at United.
"The last few years, Manchester United haven't been ready to challenge for the title, but now they've brought in players like Fernandes and Cavani - players with a winning mentality - that has helped massively," said Rooney ahead of this weekend's Sky Bet Championship match at QPR.
"And now the squad is challenging for a Premier League title. I said to the coaches in the office here six weeks ago that I thought Manchester United will win the League. I still feel that today.
"Paul Pogba will have a massive part to play in that. Those players that have been brought in with winning mentalities will relieve some of the pressure from Paul a bit, and he can now show his quality on the pitch."
'Derby players still waiting to be paid'
Rooney has praised the Derby first-team squad for their continued commitment and patience as they wait to be paid their outstanding wages for December and says he hopes the matter will be resolved before they play again on Saturday.
Most of Derby's first-team squad were only paid 50 per cent of the money that was due to them at the end of December and were told the rest would be paid in full, together with their current month's wages, at the end of January.
However, repeated delays in the protracted takeover by Sheikh Khaled's Derventio Holdings has meant the club has a major cash flow problem.
"My understanding is that they haven't been paid," Rooney added. "The sooner the better and the sooner that happens we can look to start bringing some players in.
"I'm proud of the players with how they are reacting to the situation because it isn't easy for anyone. I'm proud of how they are performing, and we need that same performance again on Saturday.
"The quicker everything else is sorted out that can only benefit us."