Jose Mourinho said after the draw against Southampton that it will be "a miracle" for Manchester United to finish among the top four in the Premier League this season, and then, three days later, he said he did that meant nothing at all.
But whether he will admit it or not, it will take a monumental effort to get over the line from here. And with United's deputy chairman Ed Woodward, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal toppling over just as Champions League football was out of reach, what should happen to Mourinho in the summer? do not meet.  A 2-1 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Wednesday, which extended their win to four without a league win, left United with 23 points from their first 1
In the last lap In the last decade, only two teams have recovered from a poorer start to the top four – Arsenal 2012/13 and again 2014/15. In 2012-13 Arsenal collected 21 points from the first 15 games. In the years 2014 to 2015, there were 23 – just like United.
In both cases, however, the gap was not as big as United. Arsenal finished 10th in 2012 after 15 games and five points from fourth place. Two years later, they were sixth and only four points behind the pace.
It means United need to climb a mountain if they want to play Champions League football in the coming season. For Mourinho, the price could be his job.
In 2014, Moyes was fired after being defeated by Everton at Goodison Park, leaving the first four mathematically out of sight. Van Gaal was allowed to lead his team at Wembley for the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, but was dismissed a few days later, after United had reached a fifth place in the league – Manchester City had reached the fifth place due to the goal difference.
Sources did it ESPN FC said that Mourinho, who has a contract until at least 2020, still has the support of Woodward and the Board, but in the Champions League qualifiers, they have usually drawn a line. The precedent with managers was set.
In this context, Mourinhos United is only one point better than 2013 under Moyes. The season in which Van Gaal was dismissed, the Dutchman collected 29 points from the first 15 games and United sat comfortably in fourth place.
After initially suggesting that his team return to the top four by the end of December, Mourinho admitted this week that after three draws with Crystal Palace, he was forced to change his target, Southampton and Arsenal ,
He was close enough to "smell" these positions at the turn of the year, but now he is more realistic, but the fact that his team would have to make a run is not to be missed. That seems unlikely at the moment.
Arsenal won eight in 2012-13, taking two of his last ten games to fourth place and a lead over rival Tottenham in northern London. In the years 2014 to 2015, they managed to reach the third rank after losing only three league games after the New Year's Day. United's longest win in the league this season has two.
Whether or not Mourinho thinks it will be a miracle to finish fourth or not, the statistics indicate that he is already against it.
The teams have been in the top four positions forty times over the past ten seasons and only twice have a team achieved what United needs now. One could argue that Mourinho faces an even greater challenge, as the gap is already larger.
After a pitiful evening in Southampton on Saturday, there were at least signs of life against Arsenal. It was enough for Mourinho to reiterate the spirit and character of his players after building twice the usual setback.
Arsenal can be added to a list that already includes Newcastle, Chelsea, Bournemouth and Juventus, but fights back from here and here Completing the season under the top four is quite another matter.