Jose Mourinho had limped for joy like a little boy who was given an ice-cream when Manchester United defeated Middlesborough and moved up to the fifth place after 18 weeks of the season in the sixth position and suddenly the prospect of making the top four became realistic but that was not to be again.
Win or draw United had remained glued to that position until that change which eventually didn’t last anyways. Two consecutive home draws against West Brom and Everton accompanied with Arsenal’s midweek win put United back to the sixth and top four finish even seem farther especially with away games at Burnley, City, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Twenty games unbeaten in the Premier League should have been celebrated but the points got from those matches betray that record. United have been frustrated at home by lesser teams this season, the records are not too good and it’s already too late to redeem that as we have just two home games left; Swansea and Crystal Palace.
Now four points off the league quartet, and struggling to win matches we should have put to bed, the chances of qualifying for the Champions League via our position in the league are extremely slim.
There is pressure coming from different quarters for United to play in that competition next season. Apart from the prize money, prestige and exposure that comes with playing in the football’s premium club competition, some of the club’s sponsorship deals are hinged on the team being in the Champions League. Likewise we may miss out on some of our top transfer targets.
Despite the calls on us to focus more on the Europa league, which is obviously what we should be doing right now, can we really put up the performance that can win the competition? Our performances in the competiton has not been that exceptional even though we are strong favourites to win it. We have struggled against teams too. While we can claim to have an easy opponent in the quarter-final, Anderlecht, they are no under-dogs so we shouldn’t be complacent againt them.
The Europe second-tier competition remains our major hope of qualification for champions league so we need ti get out of the block.