As the most exciting season in Premier League history enters its final stages, the way that Leicester and Spurs have upset both pundits’ predictions and the usual script for the past decade or more has been the main focus of attention. However, for millions of Manchester United fans around the world, there is also a very real fear that the end of the competition this time round could see the red side of Manchester left out of European level challenges next season.
Last minute confidence
With only a few games left, there are a lot of factors that can be considered, not least the question of confidence within the Old Trafford camp itself. Manager Louis van Gaal has gone public to answer concerns about the team keeping their star players even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, which simply raises the further question that there is some doubt about whether they will be competing in it next season.
Goalkeeper David De Gea’s move to Real Madrid collapsed on transfer deadline day last year and will be an obvious focus of attention again at the end of this campaign. The confusion is only made worse by the fact that a big question mark still hangs over Van Gaal’s own future in the manager’s chair. Speaking of De Gea and speculation surrounding some of the big names, the manager told the Mirror: “When another club wants to pay the figures that the board of Manchester United demand, then it’s possible. But that is dependent on the board.”
The question of whether or not Man U will be competing in Europe’s top tier next time out isn’t solely in their hands. Four English clubs will normally qualify for the Champions League, and coincidentally these are normally the same four teams that finish in the Premier League’s top four. However, with Manchester City and Liverpool still playing in this season’s European competitions, things could get complicated.
There are a number of possibilities and permutations because if a team wins the Champions League, they automatically go on to qualify for the following season’s Champions League group stages. This means United rivals City could qualify even if they finish outside of the top four. If Liverpool were also to succeed in their European ambitions and finished outside of the top four, only the top three will qualify for Champions League and the fourth placed team will have to settle for Europa League place. You can find out more about the way it all works and the chances of the most likely outcomes on the sports betting blogs, some of which also feature a useful NFL betting introduction.
Rules are rules
The bottom line is that under UEFA rules, the fate of United’s immediate European future lies in the hands of their bitter rivals City and Liverpool. The irony of this is that it is likely to be yet another factor in driving both teams forward in their own ambitions for this season. While it seems a long time since Sir Alex Freemason declared he wanted to knock Liverpool off their perch, the possibilities that this could be yet another disappointing season for United are now very real indeed.