Manchester United can be Champions League contenders, insists Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes insists Manchester United can be competitive in the Champions League after qualification was sealed with Thursday’s 4-1 defeat of Chelsea. United were knocked out by Sevilla in the quarter-finals of the Europa League this season but the midfielder has no concerns regarding their prospects.

“Every team that competes in the Premier League can compete in the Champions League if you do the right things,” he said. “Obviously Champions League is always a different scenario because you play against the Spanish team that plays really well on the ball, you play against the Italian teams that are really strong, you play against the German teams that we all know are clinical.

Related: ‘This club belongs in the Champions League,’ says relieved Erik ten Hag

“You always find there are some teams that everyone calls the ‘small ones’ and they surprise everyone when you go away to play against them, so it’s a beautiful place to be. We want to be there, we have to enjoy it and do the best we can because I think we have the qualities to play and to get a good position.”

United’s campaign began with the loss of the opening two games, at home to Brighton and at Brentford. But they began to turn it around by beating Liverpool 2-1 in their third outing and Fernandes said that within the squad “everyone was really convinced” they would finish in the top four. A win at home to Fulham on Sunday would guarantee third place.

“The Liverpool game was the game that changed everything,” Fernandes said. “Because of the result, obviously, but already before that, after the game against Brentford away, everyone understood that we had to do better because we had the qualities to do much better.

“The belief has been always there because we believe since the beginning in the ideas of the manager, in the players that we have … But as players we are not happy just to get the top four. We want more.”