‘Fixtures look quite favourable’ – Scholes backs Utd to secure top-four finish
Paul Scholes has backed Manchester United to secure a top-four finish, insisting their remaining “fixtures look quite favourable”.
United sat fifth in the Premier League standings when play was stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak in March.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had enjoyed an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions before the three-month hiatus, closing the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to just three points while also negotiating their way through to the latter stages of both the Europa League and FA Cup.
The Red Devils will be hoping to pick up from where they left off on June 19, as they reopen their schedule with a crucial clash against Tottenham.
Club legend Scholes is optimistic that his former employers will finish the season strongly, especially with Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba back in the fold after long-term injury layoffs.
Asked if he is confident of United’s chances of making the top-four, the ex-midfielder told MUTV: “Yes I am. I think if we didn’t have this break, I think we were certainties to get it. There’s just no knowing how we’ll come out of it.
“I think we’ll be fine. We’ve got big players coming back into the team, which we didn’t have in Marcus and Paul coming back into the squad.
“If they can come back, hit the ground running I think they’ve got every chance. It’d be great to get to an FA Cup final as well, although it’ll probably be a little bit strange with no fans there – but still, it’s a trophy and you’d like to win it.
“You just have to wait and see but I think they’ve got a great chance. What is it, three points behind Chelsea? Our fixtures do look quite favourable. Fingers crossed we’ll come back in the same vein of form and hopefully get that Champions League spot at the end of the year.”
After their meeting with Spurs, United will start preparing for a showdown against Sheffield United on June 24, with Chris Wilder’s high-flying Blades also chasing down a seat at Europe’s top table.
The Red Devils are due to take on Norwich three days later, before turning their attention to a meeting with Brighton on the final day of the month.
Manchester United are among those to have been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, and the 25-year-old’s agent admits that “a lot of clubs want him”.
Interest in the classy Spain international should come as no surprise, given the standing he now enjoys in the European game.
After stepping out of Atletico’s famed academy system, Saul has gone on to take in 286 senior appearances for the Liga giants.
He has become a model of consistency for club and country, with admiring glances being shot in his direction on a regular basis.
United have been strongly linked with the midfielder, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still in the market for more ball-playing options despite adding Bruno Fernandes to his ranks and seeing Paul Pogba return to fitness.
They will not be the only ones in the mix, though, if a scramble is sparked for a prized signature, with Jonathan Barnett admitting as much to Sport Witness.
He said: “Somebody like Saul doesn’t need anybody to push him.
“He’s so good and everybody knows that and they know a lot of clubs want him. But he’s already at a very big club. He has a very good relationship with Atletico Madrid and Atletico fans.
“Every good player is linked with another club. Some agents may want to do that and if they need the press to do something, then they are not very good at their job. It’s journalists trying to write things. It may be true or may not be true, but it’s something we as an agency at Stellar don’t really get involved in.”
Barnett has spoken out against the rumours surrounding another of his high-profile clients, Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, on a regular basis over recent weeks.
His words have done little to curb the rumours, while Jack Grealish is another that he may soon be called to thrash out a new contract for.
The Aston Villa playmaker is also being linked with a big-money move to Manchester United, with many talking up his potential value to the Red Devils, and Barnett expects the 24-year-old to reach the very top of the game.
He added on Grealish: “I think Jack has a wonderful future. I think he’s the most fantastic player.
“He has a great future. It’s all ahead of him. He’s got everything to become a really big star.”