Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed Manchester United's dreadful defeat to Burnley was not "a fair reflection" of his players as they were "mentally" drained 10 days out from a mid-season break.
United are fifth in the Premier League but remain six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea after slumping to a shocking 2-0 loss to Burnley at Old Trafford.
Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez got the visitors' goals, while United, after passing up promising first-half chances, scarcely threatened a fightback.
Manager Solskjaer does not want United to wallow in the aftermath of the loss, yet he believes his players are struggling.
They face Watford or Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup on Monday (AEDT), before an EFL Cup semi-final second leg against rivals Manchester City - who lead 3-1 on aggregate - and a Premier League clash with Wolves.
United can then enjoy a mid-season break before returning to action at Chelsea on February 18.
"For us, we've just got to stick to our values, stick to our beliefs, knowing it's no use feeling sorry for yourself," Solskjaer told a news conference. "You know you've got to go out there tomorrow, the day after, getting ready for Sunday.
"We know we've had X amount of games since the beginning of December and they are very stretched. Some of these have probably played more than they should have and expected.
"More mentally than physically, I think, they need the mid-season break. So we just need to get over that line, get these three games not out of the way but look forward to Sunday.
"FA Cup against who knows who still. There's a chance then to get some belief back."
Solskjaer added United have sporadically been "fantastic" but the Burnley game was an indication of "where we're at" in terms of squad depth, with Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford all out.
"I wouldn't say today was a fair reflection on this group and the season they've been through," he said. "They've done fantastic at times.
"Of course, I can't sit here and do anything but hold my hands up and say that's not good enough for Manchester United.
"But that's where we're at at the moment in terms of players. It's not like we had 10 players on the bench we could have rotated. They've played and they've done fantastic."