When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho
in December, the top four was the last thing on anyone's mind.
Steady the ship and restore some pride, those were the objectives. Possibly have a run in the FA Cup
, too, but not qualify for the Champions League
Saturday's victory over Fulham, Solskjaer's eighth in his nine Premier League
games so far, lifted United into the top four for the first time since the opening weekend.
Now, they are the favourites to stay there — and finishing above Arsenal and Chelsea has to be his goal.
Once again, Arsenal are struggling on the road. They have not strengthened an error-prone defence that is yet to keep a clean sheet in an away game.
Chelsea — United's other rivals for fourth place — are woefully inconsistent, losing 2-0 to a poor Arsenal side, 4-0 at Bournemouth and now 6-0 at Manchester City. Fail to finish above both these teams and Solskjaer cannot get the job full-time.
Some will argue that he has already done enough. He arrived with United 11 points adrift of Chelsea in fourth place and only one above seventh-placed Wolves. United's richly talented players were consumed by fear and that showed in their performances.
After they drew Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16, I wrote in Sportsmail
that for the first time, United were the team everyone wanted to face. With Mourinho in the dugout, I argued, they had next to no chance.
Now, I cannot imagine Thomas Tuchel is looking forward to Tuesday's trip to Old Trafford — not least because Neymar and possibly Edinson Cavani will be absent.
Their stars are playing with a new-found freedom and confidence. United fans I speak to are excited about watching their team again. The aura of invincibility is returning to Old Trafford.
Paul Pogba sums up the change in mood. He is scoring the goals, supplying the assists and making the passes at key moments. On current form, he is the best midfielder in the Premier League.
I cannot wait for his midfield battle with Marco Verratti on Tuesday. How will he combat Pogba's athleticism?
United have an excellent chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Even if they go further, there would be a feeling of disappointment at Old Trafford if they did not qualify for Europe's elite competition next season.
United still have four of their five main rivals to play before the end of the season, starting with Liverpool at home a week on Sunday.
Slip up in those fixtures, lose ground on the top four and there will be doubts as to whether Solskjaer is the man to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the title next season. Ultimately, winning the Premier League has to be the aim for a club of United's size.
Victory over PSG would be another important step in United's revival but it is the Premier League that will decide Solskjaer's long-term future.
The secret to Burnley's New Year revival is that Sean Dyche is giving them greater licence to attack.
They had scored just 17 goals in their first 19 games — the third-fewest in the Premier League.
In their seven games since Boxing Day, they have found the net 12 times. If Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood keep firing, Burnley will stay up.
I was relieved to hear that Jack Clarke was out of hospital after being taken ill during Leeds' draw at Middlesbrough.
He only turned 18 in November but has already forced his way into Marcelo Bielsa's promotion-chasing side.
I wish Jack a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in action very soon.
Jamie Vardy penalty call left me cold
Jamie Vardy is Leicester's first-choice penalty taker. If he is on the pitch, he takes them. But coming straight off the bench to take that spot-kick at Wembley, the odds were always going to be stacked against him.
After sitting on a chilly bench for an hour, how can you be at your sharpest? The last time Vardy would have touched the ball would have been during the substitutes' half-time warm-up at the very least.
I understand why Claude Puel may not have wanted James Maddison to take it. Gerard Houllier never wanted the player who had been fouled for the penalty take it as he did not feel they would be in the right frame of mind.
Thrust into the action and tasked with dragging his team back into the game, Vardy was arguably under more pressure.
How often have we seen Watford teams get off to a promising start, only to slip down the table? This season I thought their luck would run out and thought they would be in serious danger of relegation.
Instead, they are finding a way to go the distance under Javi Gracia. He team is well balanced with the flair of players like Gerard Deulofeu and Will Hughes and the physicality of Troy Deeney. Now, qualifying for the Europa League is a real possibility.
With Liverpool already 3-0 up on Saturday, Virgil van Dijk cleared a cross and celebrated as if he had scored.
Liverpool's title bid has been built on defensive solidity and, after a couple of below-par games, Van Dijk was determined to shut out Bournemouth. The clean sheet will have pleased Jurgen Klopp as much as his side's free-flowing football.