Louis van Gaal says Manchester United will need a "miracle" to win the Premier League this season.
United are already under pressure after just one game of the new campaign, having lost their opener at home to Swansea with a trip to Sunderland next up on Sunday afternoon.
Van Gaal has been tasked with reviving the fortunes of a club that finished seventh last season and is confident he will get the job done. United's owners, the Glazer family, and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have assured him he will be given more time than David Moyes, who was sacked just 10 months into a six-year contract after replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.
Woodward is also set to deliver United's fourth major signing of the summer in Angel Di Maria, for what has been touted as a British record fee of close to 56 million pounds, as United's summer spending nears the 120 million pound mark.
There is also confidence the club can sign Daley Blind from Ajax, while Van Gaal remains in the hunt for another midfielder before the transfer window closes, with the United manager brutally honest in his latest assessment of his current squad.
"To win the league this season would be a miracle," said Van Gaal. "But that isn't to say that it isn't possible. It is always possible, but it shall be very difficult.
"The Glazer family understand this or I would not have accepted this job. I have discussed everything with them. We have had long discussions where I have shown myself. I am always open to them.
"That is why we discussed three years, not one year. They wanted to know what are the consequences when you are hiring me - and I have told them. In my experience, in my former clubs, it was always that the start was very difficult."
Van Gaal also pointed to the flying starts he made at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning championships in his first seasons in charge of both clubs.
"A manager should he judged in his second season," he added. "Nevertheless, what I have experienced [was that] I was champion in Barcelona and Munich in my first season.
"So, it is possible. What I did at Bayern Munich was a miracle because the team was not stable when I got there. When I took over from Bobby Robson at Barcelona, he had won three titles, so there was stability. The problem I have at United is that the selection is not balanced. There are five No. 9s and six No. 10s -- and we don't have enough defenders."
With Nani already shipped out to Sporting Lisbon on loan as part of the deal to bring in Marcos Rojo, there could be further exits at United as Van Gaal goes about redressing the imbalance in his squad. Van Gaal has refused to rule out the sale of Danny Welbeck, with Tottenham reportedly interested in the striker.
Marouane Fellaini, who is wanted on loan by Napoli, and Anderson are expected to be allowed to leave while doubt also surrounds the future of Wilfried Zaha. For those who are kept around, Van Gaal says it will take time for them to adapt to his philosophy and his 3-5-2 formation.
"The problem when I start is that I give a lot of information to the players," Van Gaal added. "That means I load the brain a lot and it is not easy for them to adapt to a new situation. People say to me I should give a little less information, but that isn't possible because I'm trying to change the way we play."