The Debate: Our top-four chat got heated!
After a long break, Manchester United will finally return to Premier League action this weekend and the Reds are determined to produce a successful end to the season.
The extended break without football has provided an opportunity to focus on the remaining objective: to secure fourth place and qualify for the Champions League in 2022/23. It won’t be easy, of course, but United have experience in this area and everybody is optimistic of success.
It appears we have three big rivals for the top four in Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, so we asked supporters of those clubs to join our latest episode of The Debate for what became a lively discussion. We began by asking a simple question: why will your club finish in fourth place?
Read what the panel had to say, starting with an ex-Red…
“If I am being honest, it's a difficult one because we are not in pole position. But I just feel like we've been here before, we've been in this position and we know what to do to win it. I've been to every game this season and, on our day, I think we can beat anyone. That's the truth, we have just not been consistent. I just hope when the lads come back from internationals, we get back on it and we focus because there are not many games left now. The Champions League for this club is massive. It is something that we need and want. The players want it and it's still there. If we can win our remaining games then it will put a lot of pressure on the teams in front of us. I just feel the pressure might get to a few of the teams. There are some inexperienced players there. It will be tight and we haven't helped ourselves, but if we can come back focused I still feel the lads will understand what they need to do, but we need help.”
“We are under a lot of pressure and we are the hunted at the moment. The reason why I think we can get it is because, out of all the teams chasing it, we are playing the best football. That is what will get you across the line. It's fine to look at the run-ins and say 'we should beat them' and 'that's an easy one', but it's how you are playing and Arsenal are playing well. It was a brilliant performance last time out at Aston Villa and I think a lot of the teams around us were thinking we might have slipped up, but we went there, dominated and played really well. We've got points on the board, a game in hand against Chelsea, which isn't easy, and we also have Tottenham away. Even when they're poor, when we go to their place, they give us a serious game, so that's a difficult game. But I think if we keep playing like we are, we can get over the line.”
“It's the million-dollar question and to be truthful I am not even sure Spurs will make it, but what we have going for us is the manager. We have the best manager out of all the sides chasing the top four, he has been in pressurised situations before and the one thing he specialises in is getting the maximum out of players who may not be as good as the teams around them. Antonio Conte can get us playing a more consistent style of play than maybe a Ralf Rangnick or a Mikel Arteta, but we have got a long way to go. It is all about consistency and the one thing Spurs have lacked is consistency. We need to prove to ourselves that we can get into the top four by winning three, four, five games on the spin. Can we get points against the teams we should beat? When I look at games we have dropped points in - Burnley away, Southampton at home, Wolves at home - these are the games we have to pick up points in. Those are the types of games Arsenal have picked up points in and we find ourselves having to chase them. All we can do is focus on what's in front of us and we have a favourable run-in. We have to take advantage of that.”
DAN, WEST HAM TV
“Being in Europe could be a problem for us, but if you look at Arsenal, they have to cram games in from when they were called off. They have a lot of cup finals, so I think a few teams have to deal with that. For us it can be a distraction, but if I have to say why we'll get top four then I'd say it's the hunger in the team because we haven't achieved this before. There is a real desire within the place to get fourth and this time of year is when Michail Antonio really starts to hit form. We have got one of the easiest run-ins - apart from facing Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City, it's all teams in the bottom half. Spurs are serial bottlers [laughs] so that's in our favour. But we will see. I think we will finish above Spurs, regardless. I would rather win the Europa League, but we don't want to completely focus on that and put all of our eggs in one basket. There are hard teams there too, we could get Barcelona in the semis, so if we do dismiss the league and then get knocked out of Europe, we could have fallen down to eighth. So I want to stay in the fight and if it's still tight with four games left, then maybe we can do something. We're in the conversation.”