Paul Merson says Manchester United are on the ‘verge of a meltdown’ as he fears they ‘could be caught’ in the race for the top four.
United were top of the table in January but they have drawn five and lost one of their last eight top-flight matches to leave them trailing current league leaders Manchester City by 14 points.
On Sunday, the Red Devils face City at the Etihad Stadium where they will be looking to end their local rivals’ run of 15 straight victories in the league.
United remain in second place but Leicester are behind them by one point, while Chelsea are in fourth on 47 points.
Should fifth-placed Everton win their game in hand, they will be within just two points of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Considering they were leading the standings less two months ago, Arsenal hero Merson feels it would represent a ‘major collapse’ should they fail to finish in the top four, which he believes is now a possibility.
‘They were top of the league not so long ago and if you’re in with a chance of winning the title and then you don’t finish in the top four, that’s a major collapse.
‘United have stopped scoring goals and teams below them have winnable games. They have opened the door. And they could be caught.’
Bruno Fernandes has been United’s top scorer and creator in the Premier League with 15 goals and 10 assists in 27 games.
Merson feels Solskjaer’s side are over-reliant on the Portugal international and called for his team-mates to step up.
‘You have to ask questions of the players,’ he added. ‘Look at the players they have. Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Daniel James.
‘There’s a lot of ammunition there. Players who can hurt you. But too often it’s all about Bruno Fernandes.
‘They’re always waiting for him to do something special. But teams are targeting him now and he’s getting tired. It’s taking a toll on him.
‘He’s been carrying a massive football club on his shoulders for too long this season. Someone else has to step up.’
‘They could have gone gung-ho and chased the game, because they had Crystal Palace next.
‘But they didn’t, and now it’s two draws in a week and the best they can probably hope for in the Manchester derby is another one.
‘That’s a lot of points to drop in a short space of time at this stage of the season. A massive turnaround. And they have some really tricky fixtures coming up too.
‘After City they have to play West Ham, who are flying, in between the two games against AC Milan in the Europa League.
‘Then they’ve got Leicester in the FA Cup, Brighton, who can give anyone a game and won at Liverpool recently, and Tottenham, who smashed them at Old Trafford.
‘If you’re playing to draw games against the top clubs, which they seem to be doing, you have to be a flat-track bully.
‘You have to beat the lesser teams. It’s a dangerous game to play. If they get beat by City then their confidence could start draining away.
‘They could be in real trouble if they don’t find a way to start scoring goals again.’