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Ranking change could prevent Man United from playing Champions League next season



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Manchester United’s Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread as their best chance of qualifying for Europe’s elite competition is reliant on their closest rivals.

United have added fuel to their hunt for Champions League football in recent weeks with hard-fought victories over Aston Villa and Luton Town, meaning that Erik ten Hag’s side have now won four games in a row in the Premier League.

Still five points adrift of Villa who are in fourth, The Reds have the task of overcoming this deficit to guarantee their place at UEFA’s top club tournament, however, the fifth position in the league could offer an unconventional way in.

Currently occupied by Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham, who are just three points ahead of United, fifth could be enough for the Champions League through the “European Performance Spots” – this is where two of the nations who had the best collective performances from their clubs in the previous season’s European competitions will be granted an extra space each.

However, with Manchester United and Newcastle United dramatically crashing out during the group stage, this extra European spot is now in danger as England have slumped to third in the UEFA co-efficient season rankings behind Germany and Italy.

Just a microscopic 0.053 separates the point averages between Germany (13.928), who are currently second and therefore in line for an extra qualifying space, and England (13.875) with Italy well in the clear in first averaging 14.714 points.

A key factor in deciding the extra qualification spot is the number of teams that each country still has involved in the European competitions.

Italy are the front runners with all seven teams still involved, which includes Lazio, who won their first leg against Bayern Munich, but Germany and England share the same amount with six still in contention.

United are putting their faith and fate in the hands of bitter rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, who are both favourites to at least go far in the Champions League and Europa League respectively, which could be a huge benefit to the Red Devils.

This is because England will receive a point added to their season total for each round that an English club progresses from the round of 16 onwards for the UCL and UEL and a point from the semi-finals onwards for the UEFA conference league, where Villa are amongst the favourites to win the whole thing.

This is certainly painful to write, but let’s hope that City, Liverpool and Villa all get to their respective finals (and lose) to make a fifth-placed finish a fruitful avenue for United to once again join Europe’s elite.