Manchester United suffered their 17th defeat in 26 games on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland.
This leaves United six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and they could well be nine points behind their city rivals come Sunday evening.
Louis van Gaal admitted after the game that United’s most likely route to the Champions League is now through winning the Europa League. The Dutchman has been defiant despite poor results and the alleged forthcoming appointment of José Mourihno.
Despite some standout results since the beginning of the year, such as wins over Liverpool, Swansea and Stoke City, United are most likely going to have to go the long way around if they are to compete in Europe’s premier club competition next season.
This admission is the first sign that both his confidence and defiance is dwindling. Van Gaal did not seem overly confident in winning the Europa League either, admitting that it was also going to be difficult. All of this means that United fans may have to settle for Thursday nights in Europe come next season.
— Man United Hub (@ManUnited_Hub) February 13, 2016
As with David Moyes in the 2013/14 season, the United board may be waiting until it becomes mathematically impossible to qualify through the top four to terminate his contract.
This would potentially save the club paying out for the final year of Van Gaal’s three-year contract.
Dáire O’Driscoll, Pundit Arena
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