Alex Ferguson believes the Europa League offers an easier route into next season’s Champions League than the top four for Manchester United, even though he has claimed Jose Mourinho is “unlucky” not to be challenging for the Premier League title.

United are currently fifth in the Premier League and have a hectic schedule ahead including away trips to Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City.

“The season is still alive,” Ferguson said. “They’ve won the League Cup and are in the Europa League and I think they’ve got a great chance there. It’s very important now because if you win it, you’re into the Champions League and at the moment the Premier League is a real fight for the positions behind Chelsea with Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, ourselves. It’s not going to be easy to get into the top four.

“They could do it but I look on the Europa League as a great chance. First of all, the club has never won the Europa League. It adds to the CV so I think we’ve got a good opportunity.”

“I get on well with Jose and think he’s doing a really good job,” Ferguson told Sirius XM FC, the US radio channel. “He’s been a bit unlucky actually because there are home games this season they’ve been absolutely brilliant in but have drawn them. If they’d got those wins they deserved they’d be challenging for the league, there’s no doubt about that.”

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