MANCHESTER, England -- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted Manchester United's place in the Premier League's big six will be under threat if their slide from the top of English football does not stop soon.
United lost for the seventh time in nine games after Manchester City took a significant step towards retaining their title with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.
It left Solskjaer's side 24 points behind their rivals and the Norwegian admitted there is a danger they could be overtaken by the likes of Wolves, Leicester and Everton in the coming years if the right decisions are not made off the pitch.
"We can't linger along many years because the Premier League is so competitive you'll suddenly be caught up," Solskjaer told a news conference.
"I'm concerned about lack of results and in times like this it's not time to point fingers at anyone. We have got to stick together and the strange reality is we're in a shout for top four."
Roy Keane, working as a pundit on Sky Sports, criticised United's current squad for throwing former manager Jose Mourinho "under the bus" and suggested they would do the same to his former teammate Solskjaer.
In response, the United manager insisted he had seen the right reaction from his players after the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Everton but ensured Keane there would be changes at Old Trafford over the summer,
"With Roy I've always had a great relationship with him and I value his opinion very highly," said Solskjaer. "He's got his opinion, we played together for many years, he's a Man United guy, he hurts just as much as anyone else connected that we're so far behind City.
"It's my job that when we come back to preseason that I have the right characters in and around. When you're at Man United the spotlight will be on you and you've got to make sure you come into work every single day with the effort like today. That's your duty."
In the short-term, United, who have not kept a clean sheet for 12 games or scored from open play for nearly nine hours, have three games to book a place in the top four -- a race that is still wide open after Arsenal's 3-1 defeat to Wolves.
Despite the miserable run of form, they are still just three points behind Chelsea in fourth and face Maurizio Sarri's side at Old Trafford on Sunday.
"We're three games away from end of the season, three points behind top four and no one would have given us a chance a few months ago," said Solskjaer.
"We want to get into the top four. We're not thinking or planning on Thursday nights [in the Europa League]. We'll have to see on May 12 when it's done."
Striker Marcus Rashford was harsher on himself and his teammates, saying after the match they all failed to respect the shirt.
"Today we didn't play like Manchester United. It's not right. The bare minimum is to work hard and give all for the badge, the supporters, the club and yourself," Rashford said.
"It has been a tough road to get to where we are, to get there and not be putting up the same performances as we were in January is disappointing.
"We know what's been going wrong, it's mentality and willingness to run for your team. Forget the league and top four, you don't lose this game. It's that simple as a Manchester United fan. We [the players] never call each other out but we have to be real with each other."
Defeat left United in sixth spot, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who they face this weekend.
"Forget the top four and the Champions League. We have to get to the bottom of it and start playing like Manchester United for ourselves," Rashford said.