Nicky Butt believes Manchester United have suffered due to a lack of confidence in the squad despite Jose Mourinho's team selections becoming more consistent.
Although United went into Sunday's derby with Manchester City on the back of a 2-1 win away to Juventus in the Champions League, they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium which leaves them 12 points adrift of the pacesetters.
Butt, who is now the head of United's academy after spending 12 years there as a player, believes Mourinho's team is suffering from lack of confidence.
And the 43-year-old feels inconsistent performances and results are to be expected if players are struggling for self-belief.
"I think it's difficult when you have got players that aren't in form," Butt told Sky Sports. "It doesn't matter who you are or what team you manage, if the players are not on a high or confident they are not going to win too many games.
"At United at the minute, players are low on confidence. They came up against probably the best team in Europe [Manchester City] and got beaten."
United suffered a particularly big blow ahead of the derby when losing Paul Pogba to an injury he sustained against Juve.
While Butt does think the team is improving, he believes missing a player of the Frenchman's quality is enough to disrupt any side.
"They are steadily improving," Butt said. "The manager has recognised that and they are getting consistency in the team.
"The injury to Pogba can kill any team. They are not getting all the luck, but that City game is gone now and hopefully they can push on to Christmas and get into a position where they are challenging in the top four."
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