Gary Neville says Man United could sacrifice FA Cup clash with Chelsea in pursuit of Champions League qualification

Gary Neville believes Manchester United could sacrifice their FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea in a bid to boost their Champions League qualification hopes.

The Red Devils travel to Stamford Bridge on Monday night – 72 hours before their Europa League last 16 second leg against Rostov at Old Trafford.

That tie is finely poised at 1-1 after last week’s first leg in Russia and, with the winners of the Europa League gaining qualification into next year’s Champions League, Neville can see why Mourinho might prioritise Thursday’s match – especially with United struggling to get into the top four of the Premier League.

“It comes down to what Mourinho prioritises,” Neville told Omnisport. “ The FA Cup could be a competition that United sacrifice because they have to try and get into the Champions League.

“Obviously the only two routes are the Europa League and Premier League games.

A return to the Champions League is crucial for United
(Photo: REUTERS)

“It will be a big challenge mentally on Monday. It might be the one, at this moment in time, that they can sacrifice in terms of trying not to complicate the fixture congestion any more.”

Neville began the season believing United were in with a chance of winning the league but quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen.

“I thought United would have a chance at the start of the season,” Neville said. “But when Diego Costa and Eden Hazard turned up and they corrected their defensive problems by going three at the back, it became pretty apparent quickly that the old Chelsea were back.

United are on the up again but are well off the pace in the race for the title
(Photo: John Peters)
Chelsea are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League
(Photo: Getty Images)

“There’s a lot of Premier League winners in that Chelsea team. The issue has been you don’t know which Chelsea will turn up from one season from the next. Once the real Costa and Hazard turned up and you had David Luiz in defence and [N’Golo] Kante in midfield, you have a championship-winning team, or the makings of one.

“There is still a bit to go, they [Chelsea] still have some work to do. It won’t be as comfortable as we think, there might be some dropped points in the next few weeks.

“The challenge at United was probably bigger than what everyone thought. When I look at it now, I don’t think anyone could’ve won the league with United this season.”

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