Steve McClaren says he would NOT take fourth-bottom now – as he hopes it will be a season of two halves.
McClaren’s side are 18th in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur.
I think this team is capable of so much more. That’s the frustrating thing. A lot of other teams will feel the same, and they won’t be thinking of fourth bottom.Steve McClaren
And there’s huge pressure on the club’s head coach to keep the relegation-threatened club in the division ahead of next season’s new multi-billion pound TV deal.
But McClaren, tasked with guiding the club to a top-eight finish when he was appointed in the summer, wouldn’t not take a 17th-placed finish if it were offered now.
“No, I think this team is capable of so much more,” he said.
“That’s the frustrating thing. A lot of other teams will feel the same, and they won’t be thinking of fourth bottom.
“That’s not our mindset, we’re not thinking of that.”
McClaren – whose side beat Liverpool 2-0 last weekend – can gain some “momentum” in the second half of a campaign which, up to now, has been underwhelming.
“It’s like starting a game and you haven’t started well and are a goal down approaching half time,” he said.
“But two halves are never the same in football and momentum can change quickly. We have to make sure we improve from now on in our consistency.
“I haven’t even thought about where we’d like to finish.”
McClaren, however, admits United’s position won’t change overnight, and he is also mindful of the experience of Garry Monk, who was sacked as Swansea City manager this week.
“In the Premier League you can think ‘we’re OK’,” he said.
“Swansea are an example of that, starting well and being up there and then you lose a couple and you’re in a struggle. That carries on through the season.
“Then there is massive pressure to get that result and you can get sucked in.
“There will be a lot of teams in that position this season, and we have to make sure we continue good runs and make sure bad runs don’t become three, four, five, six games.”