Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has ruled his side out of the Premier League title race after seeing his side held to a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
Villa went ahead in the game through Christian Benteke, but conceded in the second half, with Radamel Falcao scoring on his return to the first team.
The midlands club also had Gabi Agbonlahor sent off during the second half, but went on to secure a point.
It was the first game that Man Utd have not won for six, and that run had seen them close in on the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea at the top of the table.
Van Gaal has been given the aim of finishing in the top three in the league this season by the club’s hierarchy.
They are insistent that they return to the Champions League after missing out last season under David Moyes.
Van Gaal believes a title challenge is a step too far however, and told the press: “We dropped two points. We were the better team and that’s frustrating when you’re the better team and you don’t win these kind of games.
“When you want to be a part of the title race you have to win these games.
“I have seen Manchester City in the first half against Crystal Palace and they could have been behind in the first five or 10 minutes.
“They struggled until half time but at the end it is 3-0, that’s the difference.
“We weren’t so aggressive in the first half as we are usually. We kept the ball much better but didn’t create so much because we were not looking for the forwards.
“It was not good enough to catch the victory here.
“We were not creative enough in the second half but we had more aggression so that was the plus.
“We have a draw and that’s why I’m a little frustrated because you could have won the game in my opinion. We didn’t do it but we were responsible for that.”
Man Utd should focus on securing a Champions League place before any sort of title push. They could still drop out of contention if they don’t carry on their recent good form.