Wednesday 21 March 2018

How Liverpool and Crystal Palace can prevent United from qualifying for Europe completely

Louis van Gaal says the Manchester United board will decide if he remains as manager
Louis van Gaal says the Manchester United board will decide if he remains as manager

Jack de Menezes

Manchester United’s 3-2 defeat by West Ham leaves the club on the brink of failing to qualify for the Champions League after their fate was taken out of their own hands, but Louis van Gaal could yet face the ignominy of missing out on Europe altogether.

Depending on how Liverpool finish the season, United could risk failing to qualify for the Europa League, and it would leave Van Gaal in an incredibly precarious position given he would struggle to attract leading names to the club during the summer transfer window along with United suffering a significant financial hit in terms of sponsorship deals.

Had United beaten West Ham on Tuesday night – as they looked on course to do so with a 2-1 lead and 15 minutes remaining – Van Gaal’s side would have needed to match or better Manchester City’s result in this weekend’s Premier League finale to clinch fourth place.

Now, United must hope City suffer defeat at Swansea and ensure they beat Bournemouth to stand any chance on playing in the Champions League next term, but that is not their only worry.

Should United lose to Bournemouth and Liverpool beat Chelsea in Wednesday night’s encounter at Anfield, then United could be overtaken by West Ham, Southampton and Liverpool if all three teams win on the final weekend, leaving United eighth and out of European contention.

That prospect is unlikely, but there’s more to it than that. If West Ham beat Stoke they will be guaranteed a top six finish, and can overtake United to finish fifth and a guaranteed entry to the Europa League group stage. A second Europa League spot can be taken up by Crystal Palace if they beat United in the FA Cup final, although United can achieve the same feat if they win the showcase match at Wembley a week on Saturday.

Should West Ham and Palace take up two places in the Europa League and Liverpool win this season’s final against Sevilla to qualify for the Champions League, the Premier League will lose one of its qualification berths by league finishing position, leaving United out of contention.

Essentially, here’s what needs to happen for United to miss out on European football next season:

  • Liverpool beat Chelsea on Wednesday night
  • United lose to Bournemouth on the final weekend, Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton all win
  • Liverpool finish seventh in the Premier League and win the Europa League
  • Crystal Palace win the FA Cup final

However, even if Liverpool win the Europa League but still finish eight in the Premier League, United will be save in seventh and will at least be able to boast Europa League football next season. They can yet make is incredibly simple for themselves by beating Bournemouth to ensure they are in Europe in 2016/17.

Independent News Service

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport