Manchester United will reportedly face some substantial financial issues should the club fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Red Devils are currently in fifth position in the table, five points back on fourth place Tottenham Hotspur. According to Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail, the club will have to brace itself should they drop out of the running for a spot in European football’s elite club competition.
United cannot afford to finish outside of the Champions League places this season and face massive financial penalties from their main sponsors if they fail to meet their target. [Louis] Van Gaal was told at the start of the campaign that he was expected to lead the team beyond the group phase of the Champions League and to secure at least third place in the Premier League.
At the moment, finishing in those coveted top-four spots seems to be a big ask for United. Not only is the club in a lull at this juncture, but the sides above them, including Leicester City and Tottenham, are showing no signs of slowing down.
Much of the flak for this poor performance has come the way of manager Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman has made his mark on this side, but sadly for the Old Trafford crowd it’s not a particularly positive one, with his dreary brand of possession football.
However, according to former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, the blame for United’s current predicament doesn’t rest solely with Van Gaal:
More talk today but still don’t see LVG leaving. Even if Sir Alex was there they would still only be 5th or 6th with that group of players.— Harry Redknapp (@Redknapp) January 26, 2016
Admittedly, these players do need to shoulder some of the responsibility, but it’s clear they are getting specific instructions.
Results are suffering, with United now needing to rely on other sides slipping up if they are to break into the top four.
Alternatively, they could also seek to win the Europa League in an attempt to qualify for the competition, although it seems unlikely, given the Red Devils do have a stretched squad, that they’ll be fielding a full-strength side in the competition.
As noted by Bleacher Report’s Rob Blanchette, things have become stale at Old Trafford over the past few weeks:
Will United finish in the top four this season?
It goes without saying there will be financial implications if United don’t qualify for such a lucrative competition. As reported by Mike Keegan for the Daily Mail last year, when the Red Devils didn’t make it into the top four after an awful campaign under David Moyes in 2013-14, they lost out on around £35 million.
Of course, there is still time to rectify the issues and mount a late run up the table. But things are not working at the club currently, and they haven’t been doing so for a while.
Either the manager needs to make some decisive interventions immediately, or the task of pushing United into the upper reaches of the table could be taken out of his hands.