David Moyes says Manchester United's title hopes are still alive despite the 3-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
However, following Chelsea ’s 3-1 victory against United at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho has claimed that the Old Trafford club’s only title hope will be a top-three collapse.
United’s latest defeat left them 14 points behind leaders Arsenal and six points outside the top four.
United captain Nemanja Vidic was shown a late red card, which means that he will miss the next three games.
Samuel Eto’o became only the fourth player to score a Premier League hat-trick against United, to keep Chelsea in touching distance of Arsenal and Manchester City.
On the title race, Moyes, the United manager, said: “What we won’t do is throw the towel in until we can’t get there.”
“The job is to try and finish first. There are no clever answers, it’s about the next game. We’d lost one in six before today in the League and I didn’t think there was a big difference between the teams.
“It’s a difficult task, but it’s about perseverance, doing what’s right. We have players to come back and this is a project that I am going to improve as we go along. It is a massive challenge.
“I’d hoped I’d be in a far better position than this, but we’re not. As a football person, it’s a great challenge to have.”
Asked if United were in crisis, Moyes said: “That’s your opinion. Crisis is your word, not my word. The priority is to win the next game, a Capital One Cup game [against Sunderland] in midweek. I’ll try and do what I can there.
“Of course I’m a little bit surprised, I was hoping to win more and be competing a bit more than we’ve been, but that’ll come.”
Mourinho rejected suggestions that the title race was now just between Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, but he suggested that United could only fight for fourth place.
“I am nobody to say United are out of it,” the Chelsea manager said last night. “Maybe if I say, some people from United would ask who am I to say that.
“But I don’t think David Moyes will be upset if I say the reality: 14 points difference, and 13 and 12 [to City and Chelsea]. Can they recover to one of these teams? They can. But to three of them? It needs three teams to have almost a collapse.” Mourinho added: “What I hope they do is to beat all of them to finish top four.”
Asked if it was a three-horse race to be champions, Mourinho said: “No, the distance is too short. Six points to Liverpool . Six points to Tottenham, who are winning lots of matches. Everton, if they win, jump into that. It’s not just three.”
Moyes felt that Vidic was unlucky to be sent-off by referee Philip Dowd, but the United manager admitted that Rafael was fortunate not to be shown a red card for a wild lunge at Gary Cahill. The Scotsman was more concerned by the standard of defending from his side.
“The game came down to two set pieces and we didn’t defend them well,” Moyes said. “That was probably the difference.
“You always practise, make sure you can do it. People to pick up. It’s hard to do more. Two set pieces settled it. The first goal took a deflection and it looped over the goalkeeper, and we didn’t deserve to be a goal down. We might have been a goal up. But at 1-0 we were still in it, but we were terrible at defending the corner kick, we didn’t defend it well enough in the second phase.
“We had as many opportunities as Chelsea and didn’t take them. In both boxes we didn’t do well enough.”
In between we had a big part of the game, but we didn’t score when we had chances and we didn’t defend corners or set-plays well enough.
“I thought Vidic wasn’t a sending off, but I’ve seen Rafa’s and I think that could have been one.
“There were two tackles. People want their players to tackle. I thought one was a yellow card. On another day, the other was a red.”