MANCHESTER — Phil Jones has warned that Manchester United must start winning games again soon to avoid being sucked into a battle for a place in the top four.

Jose Mourinho’s team were Manchester City’s closest challengers for the Premier League title for most of the first half of the season, but a run of two wins in six, and three consecutive draws, has seen them drop to third in the table, a point behind Chelsea.

Jones insists United must face up to the reality that a top-four finish is not guaranteed.

“It’s obvious if you look at the table,” said the defender after the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Saturday. “We’ve got to stick together. It’s difficult, we’re going through a patch where we’re picking up a few draws and not winning games like we should be but we’ll get there.

“In another few weeks’ time we might be standing here saying we’re in a very controlled position again but we’ve got to make sure we do that rather than just say it.”

United’s run of three straight draws has been peppered with missed chances.

Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all missed opportunities to win the game against Leicester while Lingard and Romelu Lukaku were guilty against Southampton.

Jones added: “It’s tough to take. It’s not as if we’re not creating the chances but unfortunately at the moment we can’t put them away. We need to stick together and keep going, that’s all we can do.

“I don’t like using the word unlucky because you create your own luck but there are times in the games where you’re thinking it.

“We have to take the chances. There’s no two ways about it.

“The good thing and the positive thing is we are creating chances, we are getting into good positions and soon hopefully we’ll beat a team three or four nil again.”

United have the chance to bounce back immediately when they face Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day.

Lukaku is set to miss the game against his former club after suffering a head injury against Southampton while Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out for a month.

“We have got to win games,” Jones added. “At the moment we’re not but we’ve got another chance to pick up three points against Everton. We’ve got to prepare right, it’s going to be difficult because it’s a quick turnaround but we’ve got to do it.

“We have to concentrate on ourselves. It sounds so cliched but we need to look after each other, stick together which is what we will do and keep going and keep battling.

“It’s frustrating for us, frustrating for the fans of course and everyone involved but there’s no point sitting here and sulking about it.”