Jose Mourinho admits Manchester United are in no position to speak about the title, with a derby defeat to Manchester City leaving them 12 points off the pace and chasing a top-four finish.
The Portuguese saw his side suffer a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with that result representing a fourth reversal of the season for the Red Devils.
With title-chasing City, Liverpool and Chelsea yet to come unstuck, those at Old Trafford now find themselves playing catch-up and having to realign their priorities.
Forcing their way back into contention for a Champions League spot is now considered to be the target for United, with Mourinho conceding that a push to reach the summit is a long way off.
“We are outside the top four. How can we speak about the title,” Mourinho told Skysports
“To speak about the title you need to be in the top positions. So let’s fight to close the gap and jump into the top four, if one day we jump into the top four, we’ll see what the difference is.”
Mourinho has once again suggested that United overachieved in 2017-18 by finishing as runners-up behind City, with a rebuilding project still being undertaken at Old Trafford.
He believes a top-four standing would be a positive result for the Red Devils, with it clear that there is still some ground to be made up on the very best sides in England.
Quizzed on the gap in quality between United and City, he said: “It’s 12 points. I think our team is improving a lot, even defensively conceding three goals, it was a positive defensive performance.
“We knew that there is a difference in potential. Since the beginning of the season, we knew that our second position last season was a fantastic achievement for us, and this season we are going to fight for the top four.
“We are outside of that, we are having very difficult fixtures, away at Chelsea, away at Manchester City, almost impossibly difficult for us to win three matches in a row. Now we have to go for it and try to build on what we are doing.”
United have the international break to mull over their plans from this point, with a return to domestic action set to be made at home against Crystal Palace on November 24.