Phil Jones refuses to give up on Manchester United's title hopes
Phil Jones insists Manchester United have not given up hope of catching Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea.
United's 11-match unbeaten run came to a shock end on Sunday when they lost 1-0 to Southampton at Old Trafford.
The defeat meant United dropped to fourth in the table and Louis van Gaal's men are now some 12 points behind Chelsea, who are two points in front of second-placed Manchester City.
United were so poor on Sunday that they failed to muster a single shot on target.
United's £150million four-man attack looked blunt, but Jones believes it would be wrong to make a snap judgment on the team's title aspirations based on Sunday's defeat.
When asked whether the loss meant it would be hard to catch Chelsea or City, the United defender said: "No. You have seen teams dropping points.
"I think Chelsea were clear of City and then two games within the space of a week, they are back in it. That's how football changes. It's up and down. You just never know who is going to drop points.
"That gives us hope. There's always hope, but we have to worry about ourselves really rather than anyone else."
Senior sources at Old Trafford insisted towards the end of last year that United had been on an "upward trajectory" since Van Gaal took over in July.
But however much he does not like to be told about it, the Premier League table suggests otherwise.
After 21 matches Van Gaal (right) has amassed 37 points - the same number as his predecessor David Moyes, who was sacked after 10 months having spent less than half the money his successor has on transfers.
There is no doubt Van Gaal has restored a sense of grandeur and expectation about the club though.
And when asked whether United were in a better position to bounce back now compared to last year, Jones added: "Yes. There's a lot of confidence still in the dressing room.
"We have lost the game, the lads are disappointed but you have to move on quickly.
"You can't dwell on these results. We have done okay over Christmas.
"We would have liked to have picked up two more points against Stoke and Tottenham but now we need to get a bit of a run.
"Losing is always a little setback but it's nothing more than that.
"We have to look forward to the next game and make sure we get three points. We have been on a decent run and we need to go on a new one."
Many were surprised to see Radamel Falcao omitted from the United matchday squad.
Van Gaal's decision to stick with the 3-4-1-2 system despite United's defensive frailties also drew criticism.
Jones thinks it was always going to be hard for he and his team-mates to adapt to the new system, but the England centre-back insists he is at ease playing as part of a back three.
"I think we are comfortable playing in it," the 22-year-old said.
"It's a learning curve. It doesn't just happen overnight. You don't just click your fingers and you are used to playing in a formation.
"It's like anything. But we are improving in training and we want to get better.
"We can have a back four or three. We are comfortable with both.
"Sometimes maybe we play a pass in the defence when we shouldn't but we are comfortable playing in both formations the manager has shown. We are still improving as a team."
United, meanwhile, have confirmed back-up goalkeeper Sam Johnstone will spend the rest of the season on loan at Preston.
Johnstone was on loan at Doncaster, but the 21-year-old cut short his spell at the Yorkshire club to move to Deepdale, where his father Glenn played during the 1990s.