Bruno Fernandes has pinpointed the moment Manchester United surrendered the Premier League title race and said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team must improve their "mindset" if they want to catch Manchester City next season.
United topped the table in January but suffered a shock defeat to bottom side Sheffield United to hand the initiative to City before also recording a draw at West Bromwich Albion, another team eventually relegated to the Championship, a month later.
Solskjaer's side took four points off City but are set to finish a distant second to Pep Guardiola's champions and Fernandes said United must be more focused next season when it comes to games against teams lower down the table.
"We are evolving our mindset, we realise that every game is important and tough," Fernandes told ESPN Brasil. "We realised this year that playing against teams fighting against relegation can be more tricky than we thought.
"We lost four points when we were still in first place against Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion, and it was four points that made the difference for City to come close and overtake us as well.
"This made us understand that we have to be focused and realise that all the matches are going to be tough and important for us to keep fighting for titles. That's where we failed, especially in January, which was our worst moment when we could have boosted our advantage over City, which didn't happen.
"City, rightfully, ended up overtaking us and managing to lead us by many points."
Fernandes has been key to another season of progress for United, scoring 28 goals in his first full campaign after arriving from Sporting CP in January 2020. His form has earned the midfielder the club's player of the year award for the second season in a row but the 26-year-old said he is more concerned with winning team trophies.
"My priority right now is to win trophies," Fernandes said. "I think collective trophies are more important than individual ones because here we work for each other and if this works it leads us to collective trophies.
"I think the club has improved a lot since before I arrived, it's in a growing phase and the players are understanding more and more the mindset you must have to play at a club like Man United, which is wanting to win and win titles.
"That's what we're here for. And, of course, I feel part of that and I want to help the club to evolve, to win and hopefully we can grow even more to fight for more trophies."