Louis van Gaal has conceded that Manchester United's top four hopes will be over if they lose to rivals Manchester City this weekend.
The Red Devils are four points behind City who occupy the fourth and final qualifying spot for the Champions League with less than ten games of the season to go. A loss to Manuel Pellegrini's side would see them slip seven points back.
Their only other avenue to Europe's top club competition was shut off when they were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday by rivals Liverpool - and now Van Gaal has warned it's do or die against City on Sunday.
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"I think so," said the United boss when asked if defeat would end their top four hopes. "Yeah, we are now four points behind I think so you have to win otherwise the gap is bigger and bigger and the matches that you have to play are not so many.
"It will be seven points and we will have eight matches to play maybe. It would be very hard to recover from that gap. I think it would be difficult then because West Ham United are also in front of us, so it's not only City, but West Ham United."
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The suggestion has been that Van Gaal will lose his job the moment Champions League football becomes unattainable.
While that won't be the case mathematically on Sunday, it would heap more pressure on the club to fire the Dutchman, who has endured a torrid season.
The Red Devils remain in the FA Cup and have a quarter-final replay against West Ham to look forward to, and with their top four hopes still alive, Van Gaal is confident they can end their campaign on a high before looking to the future.
"I'm never feeling under pressure," said Van Gaal. "I have a three-year contract and the process is three years. Our aim is to reach the top three because we want to do better than last year.
"But then you have to analyse I think. You don't have to agree with me, but you have to analyse the circumstances, how I have to work.
"You can fill in the rest because I have said that in all my press conferences and I don't want to repeat myself anymore. You are repeating by always putting me the same question when I am losing or I'm out of the Euro league then I get these questions."
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