Manchester rivals vie for final Champions League place

by

May 14, 2016
West Ham's Diafra Sakho (right) scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League match between West Ham and Manchester United at Boleyn Ground stadium in London on Tuesday.

MANCHESTER, AP:

A shot at $35 million of Champions League cash. The fate of one of the managers. Local bragging rights. Future transfer targets. Reputations.

There's plenty at stake tomorrow when Manchester City and Manchester United vie for the last Champions League qualification place from the Premier League.

With the league trophy in the hands of Leicester and the three relegated teams already confirmed, the attention on the final day of the Premier League season focuses on whether City or United will join Leicester, Tottenham and Arsenal in Europe's elite competition next season.

The blue half of Manchester are in control. City occupy fourth place and are two points ahead of fifth-place United with a superior goal difference of 18. A draw or victory at Swansea will be enough to ensure incoming City manager Pep Guardiola will have Champions League soccer in his schedule next season.

All United can do is beat Bournemouth at Old Trafford and hope for good news from south Wales.

The team that finishes fourth will compete in a Champions League playoff to qualify for the group stage.

THIRD MOST VALUABLE

For a club the size of United Forbes had it as the third most valuable team in the world, behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, in its annual 'Rich List' published this week missing out on the Champions League for the second time in three years would be a humiliation.

It could spell the end of coach Louis van Gaal.

Jose Mourinho has been linked with taking over at United in the off season, and United haven't denied months of reports that Van Gaal will be replaced by his one-time assistant at Barcelona.

Missing out on the Champions League once can be seen as a blip, but twice in three years could be viewed by sponsors and investors as a possible trend. So competitive is the Premier League at present that there is no guarantee United will be back there next year.

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