Daley Blind has noted that Manchester United have to be realistic about their Premier League ambitions this season, admitting that top spot is beyond his side’s grasp whilst insisting that the possibility of reaching second and third place remains very much alive.
Jose Mourinho‘s men missed a chance to climb into fifth spot last weekend following their 1-1 draw with AFC Bournemouth but will remain three points off second-placed Tottenham Hotspur if they beat Middlesbrough on March 19.
Any chance of claiming the title is gone for United, and indeed any other Premier League side, with Chelsea now ten points clear at the top with 11 games to go.
But Blind, speaking to BT Sport after his side’s 1-1 draw with FC Rostov in the Europa League, was quick to note that the battle for second and third continues to surge.
“We have to be realistic (about the Premier League),” he said. “The first place is far way. We are still in the race for the second and third.”
“It’s a chance to be in the Champions League [winning the Europa League].”
The term ‘must win’ has reached a point of being overused to the extent that it hardly even means anything anymore. Every game, today’s overly hyperbolic footballing rhetoric, is a must win *cue explosions and Eric Cantona topless for some reason*.
But the next four league games – if Mourinho’s men really do want to compete for second spot – really are must-win games: Middlesbrough away, home games against West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland, followed by a trip to Sunderland. After that they face Champions-elect Chelsea. The 54-year-old will know better than anyone that anything less than 12 points is unacceptable.