Manchester City are “practically impossible” to keep pace with as they close in on the title, says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
City won 3-1 at Everton on Saturday, meaning they will clinch the title – their first since 2013-14 – by beating United at Etihad Stadium next weekend.
Second-placed United have earned 68 points after 31 games, but still trail Pep Guardiola’s side by 16 points.
“In other leagues we would be fighting for the title,” said Mourinho.
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United remain on course for their highest finish in the Premier League since winning the 2012-13 title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge, having finished seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth in the past four campaigns.
Their points tally is exactly the same as Tottenham had at the 31-game mark last season; Mauricio Pochettino’s men then just seven points behind the leaders, Chelsea.
But, after a Champions League last-16 exit against Sevilla and accusations of playing “boring” football, Mourinho has faced some criticism in his second season in charge at United.
The 55-year-old Portuguese has repeatedly defended his side’s results, most notably in an impassioned 12-minute speech during a news conference earlier this month.
Before Saturday’s 2-0 home win against Swansea, Mourinho used his matchday programme notes to again claim United is a club “in transition”.
Afterwards, he pointed to their league record and an upcoming FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham as evidence of their improvement this season.
“Last season we won titles but finished sixth in the league,” said Mourinho, who led United to the League Cup and Europa League.
“We want to finish second this year and have 10 points more than last season, more goals scored, less goals conceded, but there is a club which is making it practically impossible to follow.
“We are having a positive season and we still have the FA Cup to come. We are going to fight for our presence there.”