Manchester United back in The Champions League. Instead of bemoaning another poor performance against Crystal Palace United fans should enjoy those words for a moment.
Because, for much of the season, it looked as if Manchester United may have to spend another year away from Europe’s top table.
The results have been ok but, apart from the glorious 6 match run before the Chelsea defeat, the performances have been very shaky.
But it’s good to hear that Juan Mata isn’t resting on his laurels ahead of the Arsenal game. He says that 4th place is the bare minimum and that Manchester United should try to finish higher this season to avoid the qualifying round:
As you know, with those three points we are virtually qualified for the next Champions League, which is the least this club must achieve. It is true that being fourth we would have to play a qualifying round, but we will try to finish even higher, although in order to do so we don’t depend just on ourselves. But it was vital for us to secure, at least, the fourth spot this weekend.
In truth, while that early Champions League qualifier can be a real banana skin, it does tend to focus the squad early and perhaps helps them to hit the ground running in the league.
And, lest we forget, Manchester United won the 1999 Champions League after coming through a qualifying round win against LKS Lodz in early August 1998.
We have suggested this week that perhaps even Juan Mata’s place may come under threat in a summer which is expected to once more see big changes at Manchester United.
But he seems focused on the job in hand:
…it’s a game we have to win. We owe that to our fans: they have always been supportive throughout the season, when we played good and when we didn’t. We want to have a good farewell in Old Trafford for them
But with the main job done we think that this should be a really enjoyable spectacle for a packed Old Trafford with Manchester United fans in full voice after all but securing the golden chalice of Champions League football.