MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester United great Bobby Charlton believes the champions' 1-0 win over Premier League leaders Arsenal is proof they will make a sustained title defence in manager David Moyes's first season in charge.
Last weekend's victory at Old Trafford left United just five points behind the Gunners on a weekend where title rivals Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur all dropped points.
United won just three of their first eight league games under former Everton boss Moyes, who moved into the United hotseat when Alex Ferguson retired after a trophy-laden 26-and-a-half years at the helm.
However, they have now gone nine games unbeaten in all competitions and Charlton, a key figure in Matt Busby's successful United sides of the 1950s and 1960s, is glad the club's latest Scottish manager is starting to silence his doubters.
"There was a little bit of criticism going on but I am pleased I didn't have to answer it because David has done it himself," Charlton told United Review.
"We are not the type of team who can languish in the bottom half of the league and it is promising to see us putting together some good results," the 1966 England World Cup-winner added.
"We have had a lot of publicity from changing manager after so long and I've had the sense that teams have maybe been upping their game a little bit against us. But we have been first-class recently," said Charlton, who played a key role in persuading the club to both sign and then retain Ferguson before he won the first trophy of his United reign, the 1990 FA Cup.
"Here we are, creeping up the table again and that is what we want," insisted Charlton, who after helping United become champions of England in 1967 played a key role as they became the first English club to win the European Cup the following year.
"I think we are still very much in the race to win the title," the 76-year-old added.
"We do have a tendency to start slowly and come good as the season wears on.
"I would have to agree with Sir Alex Ferguson's recent assertion that we are the only team in this league who can win the league title by coming back from a big deficit."