Tom Cleverley believes Manchester United need to win all of their remaining Premier League fixtures to clinch a top-four finish.
Many Reds fans expected a difficult season in light of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but few would have anticipated it to have been this tough. A 0-0 draw at Arsenal would normally be considered a good result, but with Liverpool earning a late 3-2 win at Fulham on the same night, United are now 11 points adrift of UEFA Champions League qualification.
Indeed, it is not just their old foes from Anfield who are blocking their passage to fourth place, as Tottenham Hotspur are also eight points ahead of the seventh-placed champions, whilst Everton are three ahead with a game in hand. To ensure they finish ahead of all three sides at the end of the season, Cleverley believes he and his team-mates need to collect a maximum point haul from their remaining 12 league fixtures.
“We need to win every game from now on,” the midfielder said in The Independent. “Our result isn’t the worst in the world but we need to start winning games fast. We are still fighting for every point but unfortunately we have lost more ground on the teams around us so we have to really get our heads down and start winning quickly.”
Under Ferguson such a sequence of results would not have been out of the question, but United have already lost eight times in the league since the appointment of David Moyes, whilst they were also dumped out of both domestic cup competitions by the end of January. They could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the competition this season, but this seems unlikely for the three-time former European champions.
Yet winning 12 successive Premier League matches is equally unlikely, based on recent form and the opponents who lie in wait. United have dropped 10 points since the turn of the year, which began with a home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, and they have still to play Liverpool and Manchester City at Old Trafford and Everton at Goodison Park, three teams which have already beaten the out-of-sorts champions this term.