Tonight, Manchester United take on FC Barcelona in a huge Champions League showdown with a place in the last four at stake.
However, for the Red Devils, perhaps their biggest concern is ensuring qualification for Europe’s premier competition next term. To do that a top-four finish must be secured. Right now, United sit in sixth but the table is ever-changing with each passing weekend of action.
There are five games left for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men and you’d think that United need four wins to give themselves at least a chance. That’s a big ask given the fixtures and the way the team is playing a the moment.
With games coming thick and fast, players will have to be rested and rotated. The home game against Chelsea is the must win fixture in my opinion, and that’s a view echoed by Red legend Gary Neville. The Sky Sports pundit even went as far as saying that if there is any game in which United should make changes, it’s the Manchester derby against City. Obviously, a certain Jamie Carragher looked less than impressed at the prospect…
“It’s a huge ten or eleven days from Barcelona through to Chelsea,” Neville said live on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
“You think about that squad and can the same team play every one of those matches? They will have to prioritise and make changes.
“For Barcelona he will play his strongest team and go for it and try and make history.
“However, Sunday is the most winnable out of those three games and if Manchester United were to win on Sunday, if they beat City but lose to Chelsea they still end up out of the top four.
“If they lose to Chelsea but beat City they are in the top four. So [Jamie] Carragher has got his head in his hands here but my point is in terms of priorities, if they were to win the game at Everton on Sunday, the match to change things around would be the City game.
“You cannot play the same players during four games in eleven days. If they beat Everton, my thought would be that they make two or three changes against City whilst still trying to get the result.”
On the face of it, it does sound ridiculous that United could even entertain that idea, but as you delve deeper, it does make sense…
You’d think that the derby is the least winnable match of our last five, and although it would be disappointing to see big names sat out on the bench, there are bigger goals for United at this point in time.
We have to concentrate solely on what’s best for us than worrying about the title race. The situation gets even tougher for Solskjaer if United somehow manage to pull off the impossible later tonight, but if as expected, we get beat, then all eyes will be firmly on Goodison Park this coming Sunday. The Reds have no excuses now. All three points simply have to be secured as we look to push Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea every single step of the way.