‘I think the future is bright.. they’re favourites for the top four now’: Former Man United midfielder Paul Scholes backs former club to seal final Champions League spot after big win over Club Brugge in Europa League
- Paul Scholes believes Manchester United are now the favourites to finish fourth
- The former midfielder highlighted the problems Tottenham and Chelsea have
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are unbeaten in seven and sit fifth in the league
- Owen Hargreaves thinks they will catch up with Liverpool and Man City in time
Paul Scholes believes his former club Manchester United are now the favourites to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side progressed to the last-16 of the Europa League after thrashing Club Brugge 5-0 at Old Trafford with new signings Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo both getting on the scoresheet.
Winning the competition would give United a spot in the Champions League next season but Scholes believes they have every chance of qualifying through their league position.
Paul Scholes believes his former club are now favourites to finish in the final top four spot
Speaking on BT Sport after the victory over Brugge, the pundit explained how the situation has changed at the club.
‘They’re still a working progress. I think you’d always judge them on the league position which in the last few months hasn’t been good enough. The way things have been the last couple of years, it’s been a rebuilding job for Ole, there’s no doubt about that.
‘I think now we’re starting to see signs, I think Ole has signed four players now, five with the Ighalo loan and I think all of them have been really good.
‘I think the future is bright, there was some really good play tonight. That first 20 minutes it was lively, sometimes when you bring in a player as good as Fernandes it livens everybody up. All of a sudden everybody is giving that extra five per cent, they want to impress the new player.
‘It’s so unusual with a player coming from a different country, it usually takes a bit of time to settle down but from the minute he’s started he’s looked like a real player from the off.
The pundit believes Bruno Fernandes has livened things up since arriving at Old Trafford
Ighalo scored his first Manchester United goal in the 5-0 Europa League victory over Brugge
‘The signs are good and hopefully he stays in this type of form till the end of the season and they can get in that top four which you have to say they’re favourites for. Looking at them now wit this one player coming into the team, you’d have to fancy them. Chelsea have had their problems, Tottenham have had their problems and it’s something to build on for next year.’
United had a poor start to the season, with only three wins in the first nine league games and defeats to Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Ham.
Solskjaer’s side enjoyed victories over Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham along with draws against Liverpool and Arsenal in the first half of the campaign but struggled to beat teams at the other end of the table.
But they are now unbeaten in their last seven games, keeping clean sheets in six. Only PSG have kept more in the top five European leagues over the course of the whole season.
Only PSG have kept more clean sheets in Europe’s top five leagues than Solskjaer’s side
Owen Hargreaves agreed with Scholes and believes the club can eventually catch up with Man City and Liverpool.
‘I think if Ole can win a title, whatever it is, the FA Cup or the Europa League. If they can finish in the top four and win one of those he’s had an exceptional season.
‘Scholsey’s right, its trajectory is one way. I think the signings have been good. They just need to get the goals up. Defensively their clean sheets are up there with PSG, the best teams in Europe.
‘If they can get their attacking play, which looks like it’s been addressed with Bruno Fernandes, plus a natural No 9, whether that’s going to be Martial or Rashford, they look good.
‘There’s so many things to be excited about and it’s great to be able to come here for us and be excited to watch Bruno Fernandes and all these players take part because there’s some great players in there and Ole will try and get them back to what he was used to, what Scholesy was used to and I think it’s gonna come.
‘It might take time to catch City and Liverpool but it will come I’m sure of that.’
Owen Hargreaves thinks United will eventually catch up with Man City and Liverpool in time