Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that his side and Manchester City have done remarkably well to climb the table as the season has progressed.
Both teams faced hefty criticism for their poor starts to the campaign; Solskjaer met further calls for his sacking, while Pep Guardiola looked to be struggling again following last season’s off-par showing.
What’s more, their struggles came amid Liverpool sticking around the top of the league, despite a drop-off.
However, the Reds’ drop-off has snowballed into a tussle to stay in the top four. United, meanwhile, now sit five points clear of Liverpool in third, with a game in hand.
City sit top of the league, having won 10 straight games in the top-flight. As such, Solskjaer has insisted that both Manchester clubs deserve credit for their revivals.
“We were disadvantaged at the start of the season with the lack of a pre-season,” the Norwegian said.
“Us and City had played in Europe and had less preparation, so the performances of the two teams has been remarkable, after having to play catch-up after a difficult start.
“We lost very many points because of that lack of preparation and pre-season.”
While City have put together a 10-game winning streak, United’s 13-game unbeaten run earlier in the season sent them top just after the turn of the year.
They may have slipped to only one win in four, but they retain a strong case for a top-four spot.
Solskjaer impressed by Man Utd standards
“We’ve been involved in every competition this season and not missed out on a single game yet because the Carabao Cup final hasn’t been played yet,” Solskjaer added.
“I’m impressed by the standards my players have kept up.
“It’s understandable once in a while you will start slow or get tired near the end, or have an off-day.”
United return to action on Sunday when they face West Brom at The Hawthorns.