Gary Neville believes that Manchester United will not make the top four this season following calamitous draws against West Bromwich Albion and Everton.
Jose Mourinho’s men had the chance to breach the top four with wins over the Baggies and the Toffees, but only could only muster two points from a possible six, leaving them four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.
They still have to face Chelsea at home and Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal away before the end of the season.
And Neville, speaking earlier this week, was quick to dismiss the prospect of Man United breaching the top four in May.
“Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City,” he declared.
“I think it will be the current top four and Man United and Arsenal will miss out. It will be difficult for Tottenham to catch Chelsea and I don’t see it happening.
“It was inconceivable to think that Chelsea were going to go the whole season without dropping points.
“The fixtures and the way they’re laid out is important. So many of the United games, they should have won and could have won. They just haven’t got that killer instinct to kill teams off.
“I suppose in some ways when you can identify where you’re going wrong, your weaknesses and where you need to improve, then I suppose that’s a good thing in some way.
“At this moment in time, they make it so difficult for themselves to get in the top four.
“If you like at the fixtures they’ve got, it is so tough. I think too many mistakes have been made.”
United had a chance to enter the top four and they blew it: wins over West Brom, Everton and Sunderland could have sent them into the Champions League spots ahead of their clash with Chelsea, but as it stands they continue to lurk, bereft of confidence, in the familiar position of sixth ahead of a tricky schedule.
They will need to win away at the Ethiad – something not done since 2012; they will need to win at White Hart Lane – something not done since 2012; and, yes, they will need to win at the Emirates – something not done since 2014.
It is starting to feel as if United’s only realistic route towards Champions League football lies with the Europa League.