Manchester United could still miss out on the Champions League – even if they finish in the top four this season.
United are currently fifth, four points behind bitter rivals Manchester City, who occupy the all-important fourth spot.
But even if United overhaul City and stay ahead of West Ham, who are currently sixth, Louis van Gaal’s side may still be denied a place in next season’s Champions League.
That is because due to this year’s regulations – if City win the Champions League and finish outside of the top four, and if Liverpool win the Europa League then United would miss out.
The winners of the Champions League are guaranteed entry into next season’s tournament, as are the team which triumphs in the Europa League.
UEFA have confirmed England will have a maximum of five teams in next season’s Champions League, with no scope for six clubs from the same country in the tournament.
Against that backdrop, a City and Liverpool European double would see United’s fiercest rivals deny the three-time European Cup winners entry into the Champions League for the second time in three years, if Van Gaal’s men finish fourth.
Tottenham missed out on Champions League football for the same reason in 2012 when Chelsea won the tournament.