Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given his verdict after United were beaten 2-0 in the Manchester derby.
Pep Guardiola’s City took a huge step towards the title after they took three points at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer responded to Sunday’s 4-0 mauling against Everton by making five changes to the United line-up, bringing in the likes of Andreas Pereira and Matteo Darmian and dropping Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku, while Phil Jones missed out through injury.
Despite a promising first half, City’s increased fitness told as they stepped into another gear in the second half, scoring goals through Bernardo Silva and second-half substitute Leroy Sane.
“We got a reaction and in the end we were beaten by a better team. But we got a reaction from fans and players and had a go. You can see the work-rate was there, it wasn’t good enough,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports after the match.
“There is a difference in quality. That is why they are top and we are where we are. They have set the standard. Living in Manchester we cannot be happy with that. It is up to us to close that gap and overtake them.”
City moved back to the top of the Premier League with the win and are on track for a 98 point season, while United are three points behind fourth-place Chelsea and could miss out on Champions League football next season.
“Today you can’t say that any of them didn’t run,” he added. “You could see clearly an intent and focus. We just need to keep working on it.
“City want to win it back and by their aggression to win it back there will be fouls. They keep the ball high and are hungry to win it back. They stopped us very well.
“David [De Gea] made some terrific saves as well today. It is every day work for everyone. He has high standards. When we are having a time like this we need to stick together, batten the hatches down and keep working. We have to come back fighting on Sunday.”