Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney cut a dejected figure after his side’s 2-1 loss to Sunderland on Saturday.
The England international ultimately conceded that it would be bitterly difficult for the club to secure a top four finish this season, which in turn puts their participation in the Champions League next year under real threat.
While the focus will now switch to the Europa League on Thursday with the Red Devils taking on Midtjylland, Rooney was unable to mask his disappointment after the defeat to the Black Cats.
A first-half goal from Anthony Martial had wiped out an early lead for the hosts, but David de Gea’s own goal in the last 10 minutes ensured that United slipped to their seventh defeat of the season.
Having started the game six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, Louis van Gaal’s side will now risk falling further behind the top four with the remaining fixtures this weekend.
In turn, Rooney’s despondent demeanour was understandable in the immediate aftermath of such a setback, although the pressure will be on both him and Van Gaal to pick the rest of the squad up and attempt to end the campaign in strong fashion to at least put pressure on their rivals above them with 12 games remaining.