Manchester United’s clash with Chelsea next week is “lose or bust”, according to Mark Bosnich, with the final Champions League spot in the Premier League table still very much up for grabs.
United’s 0-0 draw at home to Wolves just before the winter break ensured that they remained six points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in the top-flight standings after 25 fixtures.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have slipped to eighth, with eight draws and eight defeats on their record, having been unable to string together a significant run of victories since the start of the season.
Bosnich, who took in two separate spells at Old Trafford and played for Chelsea at the height of his career, believes United’s chances of qualifying for Europe’s elite competition could be over if they don’t secure a win at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
“I don’t think it’s win or bust but you could lean towards it being lose or bust,” the ex-Australia goalkeeper told Sky Sports.
“I think it’s a must not lose. The gap will be a little bit far to catch up if they lose, but not win or bust no. They’re not far off and Chelsea will be looking to this with Tottenham breathing down their necks and they’re at home.
“They both had a week’s break so it will be a very important game for both sides. For Chelsea and Frank Lampard they will be looking to get breathing space between them and the chasing sides.”
The Red Devils managed to strengthen in January amid an injury crisis which has seen Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba sidelined, with Bruno Fernandes brought in from Sporting and Odion Ighalo arriving at Old Trafford on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
Fernandes took in a full 90 minutes on his debut against Wolves, and Bosnich thinks the midfielder is capable of inspiring a morale-boosting victory in west London.
The former keeper is also convinced that Solskjaer has United heading in the right direction despite the team’s recent run of results, as he added: “In terms of Ole they’re not far off at all and what a physiological boost it would be if they could win at Stamford Bridge, especially given the signing of Bruno Fernandes.
“It’s a massive game for both sides.”
After their trip to the Bridge, United will look ahead to a Europa League round of 32 first-leg meeting with Club Brugge on February 20.
The Red Devils are due to host Watford three days later in another crucial Premier League fixture, before wrapping up the month with the second leg of their European tie against Brugge at Old Trafford.