Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that the team's improvement should not be judged solely on whether they win the Premier League title this season.
United finished in a lowly sixth place during Mourinho's debut season at Old Trafford last term, but so far this time around they have fared significantly better on the domestic front, sitting second in the table.
However, runaway leaders Manchester City have built up an eight-point gap to their neighbours and Mourinho suggested that their title rivals may be better equipped to succeed than his side.
"I signed a three-year contract and when I signed that three-year contract it was basically to try and improve the direction of the football team. And obviously when we want to improve the direction of the football team, it means to try and win titles which we did already last season," he told The Mirror.
"But when we speak about titles, everyone obviously thinks about the Premier League.
"Of course it is an objective but to say the only way we are improving is to win the Premier League is not quite fair because the other teams, the other five or six teams, have the same objectives, the same responsibility, the same tools, they have the same qualities to do it, or even more because they have the stability over the past three years."
United host Newcastle United on Saturday knowing that defeat could leave them 11 points adrift of Man City.