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Every defeat is detrimental in United’s fight for top four, says Fernandes

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MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League took another blow on Sunday, but the fact that it was crosstown rival Manchester City who dealt the blow was secondary, the captain said Bruno Fernandes.

United’s 3-1 derby defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium left them 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa in sixth with 11 games remaining.

“Every time you don’t win a match, it’s a shame for this club,” Fernandes said. “We know what this club demands and we want to win the games we play.

“We didn’t take all three points today, but there is still a long way to go. We know that everything is not in our hands because other teams have to lose points, but we have to do our part. work.”

Marcus Rashford gave United an unlikely lead eight minutes into the match with a rasping strike measured at 72 miles per hour. His goal came days after he hit back at criticism in a Players Tribune column and was one of the only bright spots for United, who managed just three shots to City’s 27.

The loss amplified the ongoing conversation surrounding the future of manager Erik ten Hag, which has only intensified since new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe took control of football operations, with changes expected outside ground.

United have lost 11 of their 27 league matches this campaign, two more than last season. The previous two seasons with 12 league defeats (2013-14 and 2021-22) led to management changes.

United were unbeaten in their previous 143 league matches as they led at half-time with 123 wins and 20 draws – an illustrious run which they saw end on Sunday.

“Manchester United will have to take their medicine today. Huge question marks for this team and the manager,” former United captain Roy Keane said on Sky Sports.

“Standards have gone down. We almost praise United. They lost. They were performing well in the big games and competing,” he added.

“Now we sit here and say they did well, they’re in better shape. They lost 3-1.”

Ten Hag highlighted the fact that Rashford and Jonny Evans were playing with injuries on Sunday. United are also missing striker Rasmus Hojlund, who had scored in six successive league matches before being sidelined with a muscle injury, and defender Harry Maguire.

“Absolutely, they fought, the unity and the performance was very good,” Ten Hag said. “Another day we could have won, by small margins.”

Ten Hag said their 2-1 defeat to Fulham a week earlier was more disappointing. United were previously unbeaten in five consecutive league matches.

“This year we are really progressing and we have to recover points,” he added. “Everyone can beat everyone and things can change quickly. Number five (in the league) can also be a position for the Champions League, so we have to fight for that.”

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