Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand believe that his former club should aim for a fourth placed finish in the Premier League this season with a return to action only days away after the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football back in March. United will return to action against Tottenham Hotspur in London on Friday evening.
The former central defender and captain for the club also back manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to deliver United’s minimum requirements this season, which would return the club to the UEFA Champions League next season, which is something Solskjaer and his team will need to deliver. United are currently fifth in the table, three points adrift of Chelsea.
United had a good start to the current season, beating Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford, however, the season has been inconsistent since. Before the coronavirus suspended world football in mid-March, United were on an 11 match unbeaten run, scoring 29 goals, conceding twice and keeping nine clean sheets in all competitions.
Ferdinand, who helped United win six Premier League titles, two League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup during his 12 season career at the club, making 455 appearances, scoring eight goals, feels that United could achieve what they are expected to achieve this season. He said:
“I reckon they should make the top four – with that squad they ought to. Paul Pogba is fit again, as is Marcus Rashford, there is talk Pogba is looking really good in training.
“He and Bruno Fernandes can form a productive midfield partnership in a three with someone like Scott McTominay.
“Don’t forget United were on a good streak when the season was halted – and had just beaten Manchester City not long after winning at Chelsea.
“They haven’t lost in about ten games and signs of Ole’s good management are coming to fruition now. I’ve never lost faith in Ole despite all the criticism he was getting.
“I believe in him and if he makes that top four he’ll have done a good job. He also still has the Europa League to aim for if we can get that going again.”
United could achieve Champions League football if they finished fifth in the Premier League this season, if Manchester City’s European ban was upheld with the club likely to find out next month. This would mean that City’s place in the competition would go to the team below them with the fifth placed team gaining a place in the elite European competition.
This could give other clubs the chance to play European football next season, albeit in the UEFA Europa League. City has already achieved this by winning the Carabao Cup, but that won’t be eligible to play in the competition, if their ban is upheld. United could be lucky here but need to aim for forth place or higher. Ferdinand concluded by saying:
“There was a point where I couldn’t see how we were ever going to get going again.
“The world had bigger things to worry about and the fate of the title, the European qualifying places and relegation didn’t seem very important.
“I thought the season would be null and void but the fact we are ready to go again is testament to the players, the clubs and the owners.”