Louis Van Gaal has warned Manchester City they are being dragged into the top four “rat race”.
The Premier League champions have picked up just five wins out of their last 10 games and fourth-placed Manchester United closed the gap on their local rivals to just two points after a comfortable 3-0 stroll over Tottenham.
Arsenal are just one point behind Manuel Pellegrini’s side in third while fifth-placed Liverpool have a game in hand with plenty of momentum going into the end of season run-in.
And Van Gaal believes City should be nervously looking over their shoulders.
“Whether they want that or don’t want that, that is the position,” said the Dutch boss.
“It is a rat race. They are in it.”
United have been heavily criticised by their fans and pundits this season for their slow build-up play.
Their season hit a new low when they crashed out of the FA Cup last week against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
But Van Gaal was delighted with his players for bouncing back from that defeat.
He said: “We can be very pleased with the performance, the result and our reaction to the defeat against Arsenal.
“When you get a blow like that from Arsenal you need a fantastic team spirit and individual spirit, and I saw that.
“When you score goals, your confidence raises and you can pass more quickly, but Tottenham
wanted to play also and you always need two teams who want to play and you have more space to play football.
“Michael Carrick is not not my second captain for nothing. He is one of the best passers also, not only wide but also forward. We need midfielders who have that passing. When you can also score the second goal you have a big influence in the game.”