After back-to-back 1-0 league losses, Manchester United’s Top Four aspirations are hanging by a thread. United need three wins in their last four matches to be certain of clinching a spot in next year’s Champions League.
It’s certainly doable. United have three matches left at home, where they’re the Globetrotters, as opposed to the road, where they become the Washington Generals. Their matches at home are all pretty winnable, with Wolves, Fulham, and a shambolic Chelsea set to visit in the coming weeks. Their road match, on paper, is also winnable, as they’ll get 14th place Bournemouth.
Then again, they’ve looked so toothless and impotent in their last two matches that nothing looks like a gimme at this point.
Against Brighton, United couldn’t convert their chances ultimately got held scoreless by a team that has flummoxed them all year. In fact, the last time United managed to score against them was in August, when Alexis Mac Allister put it in his own net in Erik ten Hag’s first match in charge.
On Thursday, a late Luke Shaw hand-ball doomed United, allowing Brighton to beat David de Gea from the spot with nearly the last kick of the match (surely, a bit of revenge for Wembley — also an eerie parallel to what happened in 2020, when United were awarded a penalty after the final whistle blew and Bruno Fernandes converted it for an unlikely 2-1 win).
Then, on Sunday, United, once again, failed to convert their chances and were doomed by a David de Gea a howler. De Gea, who has committed a league-leading four errors this season that have led to goals, seems determined to lose out on his contract extension, but it’s not all his fault. Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho, Antony and Wout Weghorst have been erratic all season, and Marcus Rashford hasn’t been the same since his groin injury. You can’t even blame the defense, which is being held together with duct tape and Krazy glue right now.
So here’s hoping fifth-place Liverpool can do us a favor and drop some points down the stretch. Let’s see, they play Leicester and Southampton on the road and Aston Villa at home. Dammit. Guess we’ll have to see what our guys are made of.