Antonio Conte believes it is wrong to attribute Chelsea's dominance of the Premier League to their absence from European competition this season.
United boss Jose Mourinho has regularly complained of fixture congestion this season, with his EFL Cup winners currently in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Mourinho and his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola have both cited the advantage afforded to Conte by being able to implement his tactics across unbroken midweeks on the training field.
But the former Juventus and Italy coach noted third-placed Liverpool have enjoyed similar benefits on the back of a poor league finish last season and he insists a return to the Champions League next term will be a preferable state of affairs at Stamford Bridge.
"I listened to this story from when I was the coach at Juventus in my first season," Conte said at a pre-match news conference on Friday – the Turin giants having finished seventh in Serie A under Luigi Delneri before Conte led them to glory in 2011-12.
"I can tell you Liverpool are the same. For sure, we had more time to work with the team. This is my first season with a new club, and it's important to have more time to work and transfer your ideas of football.
"But if this is the only reason you [think Chelsea] stay on top of the table, it's a great mistake. We are doing a great job.
"We hope in the future to play the great competitions like the Champions League. I prefer this."