Manchester United laid down a marker in the Premier League title race on Sunday afternoon with a 6-2 victory over Leeds United at Old Trafford.
Scott McTominay scored twice in the opening three minutes before goals from Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and Victor Lindelof in the eight-goal thriller.
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Manchester United hoisted themselves into third place in the Premier League table behind defending champions Liverpool FC and Leicester City.
The Red Devils haven’t put a foot wrong since a 1-0 loss to Arsenal at Old Trafford on 1 November, dropping just two points since then.
Manchester United will take on second-placed Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day in a crunch top of the table clash.
Former Manchester City defender Richards believes Manchester United will challenge for the Premier League title but ultimately miss out on a first top-flight crown under Solskjaer.
“I’ve heard people say all season that Manchester United are miles away from being a title-winning side but the league table tells a different story at the moment,” Richards told BBC Sport.
“If United win their game in hand, they are in second place and only two points behind what is a brilliant Liverpool team.
“They are in the race, for sure, even if some of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s critics won’t want to admit it. He deserves a lot of credit for the run they are on, but he probably won’t get it.
“I do kind of understand why – as pundits, we go week to week sometimes just looking in detail at one particular game or performance by a team, good or bad, and you can miss the bigger picture, or the direction they are heading in.
“You forget that, when you get a bit of momentum as a club, the outside noise doesn’t matter.”
Richards added: “I still don’t believe they will win the title, but they won’t care what anyone else thinks.
“They have got momentum and confidence and they will feel like anything is possible.
“We saw in the second half of last season that they are capable of going on a long run of good results, so they will believe in themselves.”
Manchester United haven’t won a trophy under Solskjaer so far since the Norwegian head coach took over the reins from Jose Mourinho in December 2018.
Solskjaer’s side will face Everton in their League Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night before Manchester United travel to Leicester on Boxing Day.
Liverpool FC will welcome Manchester United to Anfield on 17 January.
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