‘It leaves a bad taste’ – Juan Mata on Manchester United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League
United needed neighbours City to lose their last game at Swansea on Sunday to have any hope of claiming a spot in the Champions League.
Consequently the Bournemouth clash, which was called off on Sunday because of a bomb scare, now has little riding on it for United.
They could still climb above Southampton from sixth to fifth but the players’ attention may already been turning to Saturday’s FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.
Midfielder Mata wrote in his blog for manutd.com: “We will have to close the Premier League season on Tuesday. It’s going to be a bittersweet farewell to Old Trafford, now that we know we won’t be playing the Champions League next season.
“It leaves us with a bad taste because, even if we enjoyed good moments together throughout the season, we weren’t consistent enough to qualify for the top European competition.
“It’s true that we found many difficulties along the way, especially if we talk about injuries (up to 15 players in several weeks, as far as I remember), but Manchester United must be ambitious and always fight for everything.”
Events at Old Trafford on Sunday, which saw the stadium evacuated in a full-scale security alert, took attention away from speculation over United manager Louis van Gaal’s future.
Van Gaal has been under heavy scrutiny for most of the season and there have been reports his position was dependent on whether United reached the top four or not. It remains to be seen whether Tuesday now proves to be his final game at Old Trafford or whether he continues, or if the FA Cup final may yet have a bearing.
Victory for Bournemouth, whose first season in the top flight has been a success, would lift them two places to 14th.
Van Gaal may now field a different side from that intended as he prepares for Wembley, but midfielder Marouane Fellaini is suspended.
Fans who were at OId Trafford for the original game on Sunday have been offered a refund and free entry to the rescheduled fixture, a gesture that it is estimated will cost the club £3million.