Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal admits Champions League qualification could be over after defeat at Sunderland.
United’s 2-1 defeat at struggling Sunderland in Saturday’s early kick-off left them six points adrift of the teams ahead of them before the bulk of the latest round of fixtures, and a top-four finish via the Barclays Premier League now looks a distant possibility.
Van Gaal said: “It will be very difficult. It is still possible, but it is very difficult. The way with the Europa League is easier, I think, but also not so easy because there also you have a fantastic European level in that cup, so you have to fight for it.
“You can easily say ‘ okay, the other way’ – but also you have to show your capacity, in every match, you have to show it and we didn’t do that today.”
Van Gaal’s position becomes more difficult with every setback, and he knows the consequences of failing to make it into the Champions League could be costly.
Asked if the club’s presence in Europe’s elite competition was the bare minimum, he said: “Yes – but that’s also our aim, so you cannot close your eyes from that.
“Today it was very disappointing because we needed to win this game because of the big gap between the top four. We want to be there and now it will be very difficult.”