Wayne Rooney admits it is hard for everybody associated with Manchester United to observe the title race - especially as Manchester City and Sunday's opponents Liverpool are among the teams battling it out at the top.
The Reds have endured a difficult campaign and are currently sixth in the Barclays Premier League, 18 points off first place with only one game in hand. When asked if the local rivals' superior form has made it difficult for United fans, Rooney told Inside United magazine:
"Yes it has - and for the players as well. It's not nice when we know we are capable of being up there challenging and we haven’t been doing that this season. It is really difficult to see City doing well - and particularly Liverpool, who have kicked on."
In the same exclusive interview, the striker explained how the current state of play between United, Liverpool and City makes his team-mates even more determined to finish the season strongly and to resume normal service next term.
"It means we have to step up and get back up there, because the feeling we have had this season when we're not doing so well is not a nice feeling at all to have," said Rooney.
"We have to keep working, keep progressing and finish the season stronger. Hopefully we can make that top four but, if not, we will still come back firing next season.”
Rooney was typically bullish when asked if driving United back to the top will be the biggest challenge of his career so