The ex-Red Devils defender cannot see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side forcing their way into top-four contention, meaning they will have to land a trophy
If Manchester United are to grace the Champions League in 2020-21 then they will need to sneak in “via the back door”, says Paul Parker, with the Europa League presenting their only path to a standing among the continental elite.
The Red Devils consider themselves to still be in the running for a top-four finish in the Premier League, but they sit 10 points off the pace at present.
Parker cannot see his former club bridging that gap, meaning that they will need to land a major trophy in order to book a place in Europe’s premier club competition for next season.
The ex-United defender told Eurosport: “The Europa League is the only way into the Champions League for Manchester United.
“They’re not going to make the top four as they don’t win enough games of football when it really matters. So the only way realistically that they can qualify for the Champions League is via the back door.
“However, it won’t be easy, having watched Rangers and Celtic. I tell you what, if everyone’s talking about United winning the whole thing, both those sides will be saying it too because they were excellent. Arsenal are still left too and there is also serial winners Sevilla.
“It’s not an easy competition to win but it is United’s way to the Champions League.”
Solskjaer’s side are already assured of a place in the last 32 of this season’s Europa League, with a 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade sealing their progress to the knockout rounds.
There is, however, much work to be done at home and abroad by the Red Devils, with United still looking to establish a settled side and build the consistency and momentum which will allow them to be competitive with the best in the business.
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Parker added: “The United boss needs to decide on his best 11 or 12 players, get consistency and get points on the board and try to play that 11 as often as possible.
“At the end of the day when you look at some of the sides in the Premier League, we are not talking about five or six great players in each team, we talk about the whole team.
“With United, they don’t have great individuals but they’re not a team either, so they’re playing games of football off the name of Man Utd.”