Friday 2 November 2018 14:59, UK
Jose Mourinho is confident Manchester United will break into the top four this season but he stopped short of saying they can battle their way back into the title race.
United, who travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, currently sit eighth in the Premier League, five points off fourth-placed Arsenal and nine points behind leaders Manchester City.
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Mourinho's side have won just two of their last five in the league but he believes United's form will improve and they can close the gap on their rivals in the coming weeks.
"When you are outside the top four I don't believe you should speak about the title," Mourinho said.
"When you are in the top four - which I believe we are going to be - you can look up, see the distance, see the fixtures, you can look at the situation at that moment with injuries, suspensions and form, then you can feel it.
"In this moment, we are outside the top four so I think the point now is to get the points we need and to try to be in a better position by the end of December, like I expect to be."
Mourinho has discussed January transfer targets with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the club are ready to back him in the market, Sky sources understand.
The United boss remains keen to bring in a new central defender after failing to acquire one in the summer.
He was reluctant to discuss the January window when asked, however, insisting his focus is on improving the players he already has.
"At this moment we have to focus on ourselves and do better," Mourinho said. "Until the end of December we have to focus on ourselves - in the potential we have, in the problems we have and in the qualities we have - and try to go.
"In this moment we are outside the top four and we have to push hard and work hard to improve and try to get into this top-four position."
On the injury front, Mourinho is happy with the progress Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez have made in their recoveries from groin injuries.
Both were on the bench for United's 2-1 win over Everton last Sunday - Lingard came on in the 95th minute - but Mourinho admits neither were fully fit.
"Jesse and Alexis are in a much better position than last week," Mourinho said. "Last week was an effort from them to be available to help the team.
"But now it is a different story. Now, Alexis and Lingard are after one good week of work with the team. They are ready to play really."