Jose Mourinho will demand more from his Chelsea team after they inflicted what could prove to be a knockout blow on Manchester United's hopes of successfully defending the Premier League title.
Samuel Eto'o's hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge saw Chelsea move two points behind leaders Arsenal and a point behind second-placed Manchester City; seventh-placed United are 14 points adrift of the summit.
Mourinho thinks David Moyes will be unable to overturn the deficit to all three teams in the remaining 16 games of the season and that United will not be able to retain the title Sir Alex Ferguson won before his retirement in May.
The Chelsea boss said: "It's a 14-point difference. And 13. And 12. Can they recover to one of these teams? They can.
"But to recover to three of them, it needs three teams to have almost a collapse.
"For the title it will be difficult for them. What I hope to do is they beat all of (Chelsea's rivals) to finish top four."
Mourinho, who insists Liverpool and Tottenham are still in title contention, will now ask more of his side.
"We have to improve," Mourinho said.
"I want better. The first 20 minutes were not good. I want the game to be in (our) control since the beginning and it was not.
"They started the match better than us and they were a bit unlucky that we scored in that moment.
"When you are better than the opponent, you have to go and try to kill the game.
"When the opponent is better than you, you have to identify that moment, you have to be humble and you have to control the game.
"For these 20 minutes they were better than us, but my team was compact, was solid, showed solidarity. And we controlled them.
"Normally we need four, five chances to score a goal. (On Sunday) first shot, first goal, second shot, second goal. Things were going in our direction."
Chelsea will have to improve without Fernando Torres, who faces a spell out with a knee injury.
The Spain striker, who scored at Southampton and Hull earlier this month, came on as a late substitute for Eto'o but did not last the distance due to a damage to his lateral knee ligament which means he faces "weeks" out.
Demba Ba will be given an opportunity in Torres' absence, while Eto'o was praised for his performance.
Mourinho said: "It's a pity because Nando (Torres) is in a good moment, but it's time for Demba. Next matches is for Demba or Samuel.
"It was a fantastic moment for Samuel, to score a hat-trick, and against Man United."
The win saw Mourinho extend his home unbeaten Premier League run to 71 games with his 100th win in the competition, becoming the manager to reach the landmark in the shortest time.
"I don't care about records," he added.
"The important thing for me is that these 100 matches, they gave 300 points to Chelsea and especially (on Sunday) these three points are very important for us."
Chelsea 3 Manchester United 1 player ratings
Chelsea 3 Manchester United 1 player ratings
1/22 Petr Cech 6/10
Stopped efforts from Young and Welbeck but little to do as United struggled. Troubled more by his own footwork before Hernandez consolation
2/22 Branislav Ivanovic 6/10
Wasted chance after good work from Ramires on return from three weeks out. Untroubled defensively for long spells but lost Hernandez for goal
3/22 Gary Cahill 7/10
Calm head in opposing area allowed the centre-back to square for Eto’o second on stroke of half-time. Header led to Chelsea’s third as well
4/22 John Terry 6/10
The former England captain enjoyed one of quieter games against Manchester United as the champions failed to create until the game was over
5/22 Cesar Azpilicueta 6/10
Quick to sense danger as Welbeck prepared to shoot before break, pressurising him with tackle. Got forward when he could - which was often
6/22 Ramires 7/10
Brazilian enforcer was quick to snuff out danger from United midfield and provided platform for attacking team-mates to cause damage further upfield
7/22 David Luiz 6/10
First in the book after scything down Valencia before being chastised by his manager for positional inaccuracies. Held ground with authority
8/22 Willian 6/10
Surprise starter and gave the ball away in opening quarter before settling into rhythm. Caused United problems with his strong running
9/22 Oscar 6/10
Shot wide as Chelsea found their feet following a slow start. Wrongly chose to scissor-kick when could have headed in. Taken off for Mikel
10/22 Eden Hazard 7/10
Quiet beginning for the in-form Belgian playmaker but began to cut in from the left wing at will as Chelsea turned the screw and won at a canter
11/22 Samuel Eto'o 7/10
Speculative shot looped in for opener before making the most of poor United defending to double his Premier League tally in a single afternoon
12/22 David De Gea 5/10
Could do little with Eto’o’s first but the Spaniard should be disappointed with his efforts for the Cameroon forward’s second and third strikes
13/22 Rafael 5/10
Not enjoying best season and struggled to cope with pace and intensity. Completely switched off for Eto’o’s second and lucky to stay on after Cahill challenge
14/22 Jonny Evans 5/10
Cut out Hazard cross in opening quarter but unable to offer much resistence thereafter. Will never be an able replacement for Rio Ferdinand
15/22 Nemanja Vidic 5/10
Left dawdling as he played everyone onside for Eto’o’s second. Poor afternoon capped as mindless lunge on Hazard rightfully saw him dismissed
16/22 Patrice Evra 6/10
Found the side netting with early foray forward but effect on game waned. Given the runaround by Chelsea’s incisive passing and movement
17/22 Phil Jones 5/10
First appearance for a month and it showed. Slow to close down Eto’o for Chelsea’s opener before a typically robust challenge on Luiz
18/22 Michael Carrick 6/10
Unwittingly forced Eto’o shot up over De Gea. Stuck to task well but not the personality United needed against a Chelsea side right in their groove
19/22 Antonio Valencia 6/10
Eager to make an impression in the opening minutes but strong challenges from Luiz and Ramires appeared to scare him out of the game
20/22 Adnan Januzaj 7/10
Multi-nationalist caused problems for home defence with his tricky footwork and wingplay and was United’s best chance of creating anything of note
21/22 Ashley Young 6/10
Returned from shoulder injury and caused problems early on. Needless booking for pulling back Ramires after ceding possession. Quiet after break
22/22 Danny Welbeck 6/10
Came into match on form and linked up well with Young but just does not offer the threat of Rooney or Van Persie. Slow to get shot away in first half