Sir Jim Ratcliffe could rely on success of Man Utd's Premier League rivals to achieve Champions League aim

There is growing hope that Manchester United can secure Champions League football for next season after winning their last four Premier League games.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe might be minded to go against his instincts and hope for Premier League progression in Europe if Manchester United are to secure a Champions League spot for next season.

Erik ten Hag's side have no European football to contend with in the coming weeks after enduring a dismal Champions League group stage campaign before Christmas. One win in six saw them finish bottom of Group A and even miss out on dropping into the Europa League.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Optimism has been growing since the turn of the year, however, and a run of four straight league wins has seen United climb back in contention for next season's edition. Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal are all but guaranteed a top-four finish, leaving United to fight it out with Aston Villa and Tottenham for that final spot - although it could end up being two spots.

Next season's Champions League will be the first of a revamped tournament structure and the first to feature 36 teams, an increase from the usual 32. Two of those spots will be earned through qualifying rounds but the other two will go to the countries whose teams perform best this season.

Watch the latest on United’s pursuit of Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth here. To measure this, UEFA has a coefficient system that, in simple terms, measures the success of teams in this year's three competitions to determine the best-performing countries. Throughout the group stages and now the knockout rounds, teams have been awarded two coefficient points for a win, one for a draw and none for defeat - progression into various stages also earns points.

Points from all teams in a particular country are then added up and divided by the number of teams competing in order to find an average, of which the two countries with the best average will be handed that extra spot. As it stands, England are third in the rankings with a coefficient of 13.875, behind Italy (15.142) and Germany (14.071). Spain (13.062) and France (12.25) are the two nations below that have a realistic chance of catching up.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

United did not help themselves by finishing bottom of Group A and winning just once, but will hope to see Arsenal and Manchester City enjoy success in the Champions League while Liverpool, Brighton and West Ham remain in the Europa League and Aston Villa in the Europa Conference League. Italy have seven teams still in Europe while Germany, Spain and France also have six each.

Put simply, United will hope to see their Premier League rivals progress into the latter stages of Europe in the hope it will improve England's coefficient rank enough to earn that extra spot. Should that happen, the top five Premier League teams would then get Champions League football, with sixth and seventh moving in the Europa League and eighth-place getting a Europa Conference League spot.