Wayne Rooney admits Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four are slim after their 2-1 defeat at Sunderland on Saturday.
Louis van Gaal’s side were second best for much of the encounter and paid the price when David de Gea conceded an unfortunate own goal in the closing stages after Anthony Martial had cancelled out Wahbi Khazri’s opener.
United’s tally of 41 points is their worst after 26 matches in Premier League history and they sit six points adrift of the Champions League places – a gap that could increase further when Manchester City face Tottenham on Sunday.
After their first-ever league defeat at the Stadium of Light, Rooney has suggested that winning the Europa League could now be his side’s best hope of qualifying for Europe’s top competition next season.
“We didn’t create enough chances, we were not aggressive enough and didn’t defend set-pieces – it is a disappointing result,” the 30-year-old striker told BT Sport.
“We didn’t play well. We know that we didn’t win enough second balls. It has cost us and it is not good enough.
“We have to somehow move on. You don’t know how this league works at times but we know it will be hard to finish top four now.
“Winning the Europa League gets you into the Champions League, but that is a long way away. It is a competition we didn’t want to be in but we are in it now and want to win it. We have to try and start again on Thursday.”
United travel to Denmark to face FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday.
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