Harry Maguire says Manchester United must respond to their chastening loss at Manchester City by going on a relentless winning run if they are to have any chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
After finishing second last term and losing the Europa League final on penalties, the acquisitions of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo brought renewed hope that United could end their trophy drought.
But the season is turning into a nightmare, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer exiting in November and Sunday’s 4-1 loss at City leaving Ralf Rangnick’s Red Devils 22 points behind the Premier League leaders.
United have dropped to fifth in the table and while they are just a point behind fourth-placed Arsenal, Mikel Arteta’s men have three games in hand.
Captain Maguire, who said the players were “devastated” following their humiliating loss at the Etihad Stadium, is under no illusions about United’s uphill battle,
“We know it’s an important end to the season that we’ve got and a run of games where we’ve got to know that we’ve got to go on a run, and we’ve got to go and pick up win after win after win,” the centre-back told MUTV.
“We’re more than capable of doing it but we’ve got to show it on the pitch.”
Next weekend’s clash with fellow top-four rivals Spurs is followed by the Champions League last-16 second leg against Atletico Madrid — matches that could see things unravel further for United.
Kevin De Bruyne goals either side of a Jadon Sancho leveller put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead at half-time on Sunday, before the hosts cruised in the second half, with Riyad Mahrez scoring twice.
“It’s a disappointing result for the players, for the club, for the fans, for everyone involved,” said Maguire.
“We come into these games full of emotion, we give everything, we work tirelessly in the preparation, we look forward to the games and we had great belief that we could come here and get a result.”