Following the win over Aston Villa, Mark Hughes proclaimed that a seventh placed finish was very much on his agenda:
"Seventh has to be realistic for us and we will work to that end," Hughes said. "We have targets. We are still in the Uefa Cup and we have high hopes of progressing further. But our bread and butter is the Premier League and I would like to think we can achieve something in it this season."With United recently winning the Carling Cup, and the final four of the FA Cup featuring United, Chelsea, Arsenal (more than likely) and Everton, this will ensure that a seventh placed finish will gain automatic entry into next seasons Europa League.
The last five seasons have seen the following points totals secure seventh spot:
- 2007/08 - 58 points
- 2006/07 - 56 points
- 2005/06 - 58 points
- 2004/05 - 55 points
- 2003/04 - 53 points
With ourselves sitting on 35 points at present, this therefore means we will need a minimum of 18 points (or 6 wins) from our final 10 matches, a task not impossible given our home form of late, but will be difficult given our away form - particularly looking at our remaining fixtures.
Seventh place is definitely attainable, but clearly more consistency needs to be shown over the final quarter of the season and you do wonder what effect a continued run in the UEFA Cup will have on our league form. There are a number of teams bunched together with designs on seventh place, but realistically it does look to be between ourselves and West Ham.
It will be interesting to see if the projected target of 53 points will be enough, and is something that I'll definitely revisit as the season progresses.