Manchester United’s qualification to the Europa League explained


Finishing sixth in the Premier League meant Manchester United had qualified for a Europa League spot, missing out on those illustrious top four places which guarantee a place in the Champions League football.

Usually, the fifth and sixth spot in the Premier League is enough to send you through, automatically, to the group stages of the following seasons Europa League. Seventh place in the league has to go through a rigorous qualification process.

However, a few years ago, the rules were changed in England to reward the winners of the country’s most prestigious domestic cup competition. If you are victorious in the FA Cup, you will be awarded an automatic spot in the group stages of the Europa League.

It was also thought that this would incentivise the prospect of winning the FA Cup in a bid to try to get teams to play their strongest XI and treat the competition with more respect.

Not only does this rob the chance of European football from the side who have deservingly finished seventh though, but it also means the sixth best team has to go through that early starting qualification.

If the winners of the FA Cup already occupy one of the six confirmed places in European competitions, then the seventh place in the Premier League will qualify instead.

This year’s FA Cup final was between Manchester City and Watford. And normally, United fans would not be cheering on the blue side of Manchester, desperate for the Hornets to sting Pep Guardiola’s men.

Although, this time it was different. Due to the ramifications, had Watford beaten Manchester City they would have secured an automatic Europa League group stage place, meaning United would have to qualify.

Qualification starts mega-early on the 25th of July too, which is during the club’s preseason schedule. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are due to come up against Spurs on the 25th of July, a fixture allegedly worth £1 million.

Solskjaer has already made it clear he wants to be as prepared as possible for the kick off of the new season heading into that preseason tour. A trip away from home in the Europa League qualifying would not be ideal and break their rhythm.

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Thankfully, despite it landing them an unprecedented domestic treble, United fans have to be thankful for their noisy neighbours. Their sixth FA Cup ensured that United finishing in sixth was enough to go straight through to the group stages. Wolves qualified for the last spot by finishing seventh in the Premier League.