Manchester United Europa League and Conference League reality explained after Spurs loss

Manchester United might miss out of European football altogether
Manchester United might miss out of European football altogether -Credit:PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Manchester United watched on as rivals Manchester City edged towards yet another title on Tuesday while they face a very different challenge ahead of them.

Tottenham's defeat to the champions does not impact United's chances of European football given they could not be caught in fifth. However, they could secure Europa League football depending how they fare in their final two matches.

Conversely, United might miss out on European football for the first time in a decade if they lose to Newcastle on Wednesday and Brighton on Sunday. Erik ten Hag is fighting for his job at Old Trafford and two more defeats and no European football would surely be ominous for the Dutchman.

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Here are the permutations for European qualification to either the Europa League or Europa Conference League.

For 6th

In order for United to finish sixth, they must earn at least four points from their remaining couple of games. If they win one and draw the other, they can finish sixth should Newcastle (in sixth) and Chelsea (in seventh) lose both of their remaining fixtures.

Also, if United win both of their final games and Chelsea and Newcatsle only manage to pick up two points in theirs, United will secure sixth spot and be guaranteed Europa League football.

For 7th

If United are to try and earn a top seven spot, then they must tally at least four points and hope Chelsea lose both of their matches. If United win both of their games and Newcastle beat Brentford on the final day, then seventh will be locked in should Chelsea only amass two points.

Missing out

In simple terms, if United fail to win either of their games, they are guaranteed to miss out on the top seven. Even a win and a loss will not be enough due to their poor goal-difference return compared to Chelsea and Newcastle. Four points for United is a must.

In the worst-case scenario whereby United lose both matches, they could end up 10th if West Ham shock Manchester City on the final day and Brighton win both of their games. However, United could finish outside of the top seven and still earn Champions League football...

The FA Cup

That’s because the FA Cup winners are offered a Europa League spot. If United finish below seventh but win the cup, then they gain access while the team in seventh misses out on European football altogether.

Should Manchester City win the cup, then because they are in the Champions League, the Europa League entry ticket will be handed to sixth place - which is why if United finish sixth, they will be guaranteed Europa league football.

Meanwhile, the League Cup winners earn Europa Conference League play-off qualification. Given winners Liverpool have secured Champions League qualification, then the gift is handed to the next highest club who have not qualified for Europe via their league position.

So, if City won the cup and United finished seventh, they would be playing Europa Conference League football next season. However, if United win it and finish seventh, then sixth place will play in the Conference League.


United host Newcastle on Wednesday before travelling to Brighton on the final day of the league season ahead of the FA Cup final six days later.

Chelsea close out the season against Brighton and Bournemouth with Newcastle, after United, travelling to Brentford on the final day. West Ham play City at the Etihad Stadium while Brighton play the aforementioned Chelsea before United to end their campaign.