Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskajer issues Champions League qualification warning
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Last Updated: 26/02/20 5:03pm
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his squad that they cannot rely on winning the Europa League to qualify for next season's Champions League.
United host Club Brugge on Thursday with their Europa League round-of-32 tie level at 1-1 going into the second leg at Old Trafford, with the winners of the competition securing entry to Europe's top competition.
Meanwhile, Solskjaer's side have closed to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League and currently occupy the fifth place that could potentially secure a Champions League spot if Manchester City's two-year ban from European competition is upheld.
"I think we need to just take one game at a time," Solskjaer said. "Both are possible but in a cup competition you never know.
"It might be a bad day, you meet someone… so we just take one game at a time, hopefully take as many points as we can in the league.
"In the cup you can't predict, you can't just rely on 'we'll win this.' There are good teams in it."
The pressure for United to secure a return to the Champions League was seemingly heightened on Tuesday when the club confirmed a fall in operating profits and recorded revenues as their second-quarter 2020 fiscal results were released.
The club's net debt is up 23.2 per cent to £391.3m, recorded revenues of £168.4m in the second quarter are down 19.3 per cent on the same period the previous year - and their operating profit of £36.5m, is down 17 per cent.
"We're a big club, we've got good finances but of course the longer you're out of it, the more you'll suffer," Solskjaer said.
"So of course it's an ambition for us to get back into the Champions League both for footballing reasons, but also financially that will help the club.
"We've just got to focus on the next game, this competition now, then it's the league on Sunday, then it's the FA Cup on Thursday, then it's the league again and hopefully more European games."
United are unbeaten since the January signing of Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who produced his best display so far for the club in Sunday's 3-0 victory over Watford.
Solskjaer compared Fernandes to former United midfielders Paul Scholes and Juan Sebastian Veron following the game, and believes the former Sporting Lisbon star fits in well at Old Trafford.
"We feel we've added some x-factor and quality with Bruno," Solskjaer said. "(His) addition gives us that little bit of a different flavour.
"He's a player who likes to play penetrative passes, forward passes, likes to take risks, which a Man United player should do.
"His imagination, or his overview and picture, is a couple of seconds ahead of many players and that's one of his strengths, knowing what he wants to do next time he gets it."