Jose Mourinho has dismissed Manchester United's hopes of winning the Premier League title, but David Moyes insists the club won't throw in the towel.
As reported by Matt Barlow in the Daily Mail, Mourinho claimed it is not possible for United to make up the gulf in points between themselves and any of the top three, following Chelsea's 3-1 victory against the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Jan. 19.
Mourinho is quoted saying:
I don’t think David will be upset if I say the reality. It is a 14-point difference, and 13 and 12.
Can they recover to one of these teams? They can. But to three of them? It needs three teams to almost collapse.
Moyes, meanwhile, remained stubborn in his belief that United, who have been without Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie because of injury, can claw their way back into contention at the top of the Premier League.
What we won’t do is throw in the towel until we can’t get there. The job is to try to finish first. I was hoping to win more and be competing a bit more than we’ve been but that will come.
However, he did admit United were not doing as well as he would have hoped at this stage in the season, as shown by this tweet from the Premier League:
David Moyes: "We just missed the clinical finishing today. We have to improve all around, & myself & the club will try to do that" #CHEMUN— Premier League (@premierleague) January 19, 2014
As it stands, United look to have a tough job overhauling Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool to reach the top four, let alone climbing above Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal as well.
Of those teams above them, United have lost to all except Arsenal and will have to produce a spectacular unbeaten run of form to even fight their way back into contention.
Can Manchester United still make it into the top four?
But even that may not be enough, with Arsenal, City and Chelsea all putting together convincing runs of form that mark them out as the three main challengers for the Premier League title.
The trio are the top three form teams, per the Premier League's official site, while United trail them and are back in sixth place.
Despite Moyes' protestations, it appears some of his United squad have already given up hope of retaining the title, and are instead focusing on finishing in the top four, per this tweet from Sunday World reporter Kevin Palmer:
Although United will be given a boost by the return of Rooney and van Persie, they also need to strengthen considerably in the January transfer window and have been linked with Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani, per Daniel Jones in the Metro.
The rebuilding job at Old Trafford will need to include a number of signings across several positions, as well as a clear-out of dead wood, and it may take longer than Moyes first envisaged when he took the post.