While they still have a chance to land the coveted 4th spot, the truth is that Manchester United do not deserve to grace next season’s Champions League with their anemic brand of football.
The equation was straightforward enough – United needed to beat both West Ham and Bournemouth to end the season in 4th and condemn rivals Manchester City to the Europa League. One would assume watching Pep Guardiola try and win the one European trophy (the Europa League) that has eluded him so far might have been motivation enough for the United players. In a must-win game against West Ham they simply failed to show up.
A 3-2 defeat flattered United, who had a paltry three shots on goal all game compared to West Ham’s 20. Despite boasting the second best defense in the Premier League, United’s defense was in utter shambles. Indeed, if not for the wastefulness of West Ham’s attackers and the reflexes of David de Gea, United would have left the Boleyn Ground at the wrong end of a cricket score. All the shiny corporate gloss in the world cannot hide the simple fact that Manchester United’s continued malaise on the field mean that they are a side diving headfirst into mediocrity.
During Saturday’s game against Norwich City, United fans must have feared the worst when Anthony Martial felt something during the warm-up and had to pull out. Their subsequent performance showed how reliant on the young Frenchman they are. Against the Hammers, Martial against underlined his worth with two well-taken goals that threatened to give United an undeserved three points. It is downright tragic, practically comical that the fortunes of the second richest club in the world are solely dependent on a 20-year-old playing in his first season in the Premier League.
Once a byword for entertaining attacking football, watching the insipid drivel constantly served up by the Red Devils has become a joke. 46 goals scored after 37 games tells its own story as Manchester United have regressed year on year after Sir Alex Ferguson decided to call it quits. Without the saves from David de Gea and the goals from Anthony Martial, Manchester United are no better than a mid table side with delusions of grandeur.
With an FA Cup promising a chance for silverware and within a faint chance 4th spot, Louis van Gaal might just remain in the Old Trafford dugout for another season if things go his way. Yet watching United’s woeful team get eviscerated in next season’s Champions League would be just a new low in what seems to be an endless list of disappointments. Between the two Manchester teams, Manuel Pellegrini was spot on when he said that City deserved to be in next season’s Champions League.
Notice the word “Champions” in Champions League. Manchester United are so far off the level of champions that they would embarrass themselves if they somehow sneak into the competition. There is no way to sugarcoat it, United do not deserve to play in the Champions League.