Manchester United's next five games could define the season

Manchester United are up to fifth after a strong week in the Premier League.

A frantic return to action after the winter break also saw United put themselves in a good position to progress in the Europa League.

But there is no let up for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the club’s next five games could shape the season across all three remaining competitions.

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Finish the job at home

Next up for United is the return leg against Club Brugge in the Europa League.

Despite the recent league improvement, the competition may yet provide United’s most realistic route back into the Champions League.

Certainly, a shock exit at the hands of a relative European minnow, on United’s own patch would put a major dent in the momentum growing around the club right now.

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Rooney reunion

United are in action for a third consecutive Thursday, in the FA Cup, when they travel to face Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round.

The competition represents United’s final chance to win domestic silverware this season and the importance of scooping trophies cannot be underestimated.

That match will also see United come up against club legend Wayne Rooney, which will no doubt grab the attention of the television broadcasters.

For United, that’s just a sideshow and they’ll need to be wary of a potential banana skin tie.

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Three crunch games

In between the Brugge and Derby matches, United travel to a resurgent Everton next Sunday, who have lost just twice in the Premier League under Carlo Ancelotti.

Goodison Park is always a tricky hunting ground for United and the league assignments don’t get any easier thereafter.

United’s next home league game is against Manchester City, who ripped the Reds apart at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup last month.

Then, Solskjaer takes his side to face his predecessor Jose Mourinho away at Tottenham in a game which will likely have huge repercussions in the chase for the Champions League places.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.