Jose Mourinho has claimed it will take "almost a miracle" for Manchester United to finish in the top four this season.
Indeed, Mourinho's side are 16 points behind leaders City, and the Portuguese has revealed it is now hugely unlikely that United will be in a position to finish in the Champions League spots.
"Last year I said it was fantastic to finish second considering the quality we had compared to other teams who were fighting for a top-four finish," he told RedeTV .
"This year, as we're facing even more problems, it proves what I said when the season started: that it would be very tough for us. Now we must try and win as many points as we can. It will take almost a miracle to finish in the top four."
Mourinho's opinion is also shared by former United defender Gary Neville, who has claimed that the club are a "million miles away" from challenging for a top-four place .
United tried and ultimately failed to bring in a new centre-back in the summer, with Mourinho consistently rotating his defensive pairing at the start of the 2018-19 season.
The likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have all been used thus far, while Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic have also been played in deeper areas, despite being recognised midfielders.
Explaining his decision to start McTominay and Matic at centre-back against Southampton, Mourinho said: "In the absence of more centre-backs that could play, we had to deploy midfielders to defend, but they don't know how to do it - that's not their traits.
"By having them playing zonally we tried to hide our weaknesses."
United are back in Premier League action on Wednesday when they face in-form Arsenal at Old Trafford.