Top Four EPL Getting Tougher – Fernandes

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United received another blow in their bid to qualify for the Champions League late last night but the nature of neighbors Manchester City being the demise is secondary, said captain Bruno Fernandes.

United’s 3-1 defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium left them 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa with 11 games remaining.

“Every time you don’t win a match it’s a loss at this club,” said Fernandes. “We know what this club wants and we want to win every game we face.

“We didn’t get three points today but there’s still a long way to go. We know it’s not all in our hands because other teams need to lose points and we need to do our job perfectly.”

Marcus Rashford gave United an unexpected lead in the eighth minute with a powerful shot traveling at 116 kilometers an hour.

His goal came days after he responded to criticism in a column for The Players Tribune and was the only player to intervene for United, who had just three tries to City’s 27.

The defeat intensified ongoing talk about manager Erik ten Hag’s future, which has only intensified since new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe took over football operations with changes expected off the pitch.

United have lost 11 of their 27 league games this season, two more than last season. The previous two seasons with 12 league defeats (2013-14 and 2021-22) led to the manager’s dismissal.

United had not lost in their previous 143 league games when leading at the break with 123 wins and 20 draws – a stunning run that ended late last night.

Ten Hag referred to the nature of Rashford and Jonny Evans being injured last night.

United also lost striker Rasmus Hojlund, who scored in six consecutive league games before being ruled out with a muscle injury along with defender Harry Maguire.

“It was clear they were fighting, the togetherness and performance was very good,” said Ten Hag. “On another day we might have won this game – a narrow win.”

Ten Hag said the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fulham last week was more disappointing. United had not lost in five consecutive league games before that.

“This year we have really improved and you need to get points back,” he said.

“Any team can beat any team and things can change in the blink of an eye. Number five (in the league) can also be a position to qualify for the Champions League so we need to fight to get it.”