|Ilkay Gundogan rounded off Manchester City’s third goal at the end of a 44-pass move. - AFP Photo|Viet Nam News
LONDON — Manchester United can forget trying to challenge Manchester City until they can even compete for a place in the Premier League top four, Jose Mourinho confessed as his side were outclassed in a 3-1 derby defeat by the English champions on Sunday.
A fourth league loss of the season leaves United already 12 points adrift of their local rivals just 12 games into the new campaign.
Of even more concern for Mourinho’s job prospects, the Red Devils are now also seven points adrift of the top four, putting Champions League qualification for next season at risk.
Indeed, eighth-placed United are now as close to Cardiff in the relegation zone as they are to City.
"We knew that there is a difference in potential (with City)," said Mourinho, whose side finished second in the Premier League last season, albeit a record 19 points behind City’s 100-point tally.
"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."
Yet Mourinho’s tune was very different on his last visit to the Etihad when United spoiled City’s chance to seal the title in the derby by coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
"The point is can we improve enough to catch them next season?" Mourinho said that day in April, but has only overseen a collapse in United’s ambitions since. — AFP