With only 12 games left to play in the 2013/14 Premier League season, and with United 11 points behind 4th-placed Liverpool, it’s fair to say that all but the most stubbornly optimistic United fans have accepted we won’t be in the Champions League next year.
As we’re no longer in the FA Cup, we would need to finish 5th to qualify for the Europa League. Tottenham currently occupy that position, and Man Utd lag 8 points behind the Lilywhites. Whilst none of us like the idea of finishing all the way down in 6th or 7th place, we have to ask whether Europa League qualification might actually be the worst thing that could happen to us.
Those Thursday night games, with potentially long trips around the continent, could massively undermine any attempt to challenge for the Premier League again next year, and could even see us miss out on the top 4 again.
That seems to be the obvious, pragmatic assessment, but does that mean we shouldn’t make every effort to win every game we have left this season? Absolutely not. Ultimately, pride and respecting the game means more than one season of silverware or sadness, so even if qualifying for the Europa League would be bad news for United, if 5th is the best we can do this year, I guess we just have to accept our fate.