LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists it is too early to write off Manchester United despite the Premier League champions' latest setback.
United's surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Everton on Wednesday left David Moyes's men languishing in ninth place and trailing leaders Arsenal by 12 points.
It was another bitter blow in a troubled start to Moyes's reign following his appointment as Alex Ferguson's successor and left United's hopes of retaining the title hanging by a slender thread.
United have already lost four times in the league this term after losing just five matches in the entire 38-game campaign last season, prompting some critics to claim the Scot is out of his depth at Old Trafford.
But Moyes received some unexpected sympathy from across Manchester on Friday as Pellegrini made it clear he believes his team's arch rivals are still firmly in the title race.
"I think the fight for the Premier League is exactly the same. There are eight or nine teams that are very close in points," Pellegrini said.
"It is early. We have five more games to complete the first half of the season and then there is still all the second half.
"For us, it is very important to continue winning."