Manchester United’s FA Cup exit means that in all likelihood, they will need to win the Champions League if they are to lift a trophy for the first time since 2017
Manchester United’s penalty shootout defeat to Middlesbrough not only saw them crash out of the FA Cup, but likely ended their hopes of winning a trophy this season.
Having come into the season as runners-up in the Premier League and Europa League, as well as enjoying deep runs in both domestic cup competitions, United would have had ambitions of progress.
But with the calendar barely turned over to February, the chances of lifting silverware this term are looking unlikely at best.
Already out of the Carabao Cup and with their Premier League title tilt a distant memory, the Champions League remains their sole hope of ending a drought which stretches back to May 2017.
The arrivals of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and in particular, Cristiano Ronaldo, was supposed to end that wait, but unless they can upset the odds in Europe, the wait will go on.
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Ronaldo has made it perfectly clear that he isn’t content with battling for top four places, returning with the sole intention of adding to the seven major honours he won during his first spell.
“I don’t accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League,” Ronaldo said during an interview with Sky Sports last month. “I don’t want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I’m here to try to win, to compete.”
Bruno Fernandes is another United star that has made no bones about his lofty ambitions, revealing that he held talks with Ronaldo, shortly after his arrival, with their targets for the season made clear.
“Our focus and Cristiano’s, because of what I’ve already talked to him about, is to win what there is to win,” Fernandes told Portuguese outlet RTP3 last year.
“Our goals remain and obviously, with Cristiano, we have one more reference to help us get closer to that.”
Now into his third season with the Red Devils, the Portuguese talisman has yet to lift a trophy with the club and last month insisted that they could still end the campaign with two trophies.
“Of course, in the league it’s too far now,” said Fernandes. “We have to be realistic and we have to fight for the top four and being in the Champions League next season.
“But, at the same time, fight for the Champions League and the FA Cup. I don’t care what people think or can say about us winning the Champions League or FA Cup.
“I think we have the chance to win them, the qualities to win them and, most of all, we are in those competitions. Until we are out, we have to believe we can win those competitions.
“My ambition is still the same. I want to win trophies with the club. That will always be in my mind until the last day I’m at the club.
“I don’t know when that will be but, until then, I will believe that I can win trophies with this club, because I think we can.
“I think the club deserves it, the fans deserve it and also the players – we deserve to win a trophy.”