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"Without Casemiro, United would not be heading back to the Champions League.” – Gary Neville
Manchester United sealed their return to the Champions League with a comfortable 4-1 win against Chelsea at Old Trafford, with Gary Neville suggesting one key signing has helped to revive their fortunes.
Casemiro’s early header was backed up by goals from Anthony Martial, a Bruno Fernandes penalty and a clincher from Marcus Rashford goal, which marked his 30th of the season in all competitions.
The top four finish represents good progress for United manager Erik ten Hag, who will look to add FA Cup success to the Carabao Cup triumph he sealed back in March, with former United star Neville suggesting the signing of Casemiro has changed the mood at the club.
"Without Casemiro, United would not be heading back to the Champions League,” declared Neville.
"They have won a trophy, they are in an FA Cup Final, so this is a good season for United, but they needed the signing of Casemiro to make it happen.
"He has brought the quality into the midfield that was lacking and leadership as well. He has changed the mood at the club.”
United captain Fernandes suggested qualification for the Champions League needed to be a starting point for United, as he turned his thoughts to the FA Cup Final against Manchester City on June 3.
"For us it's about getting our goals,” said Fernandes. “We know we'd be happy also for Liverpool to not be there but for us it's about getting the best for ourselves.
"It's not perfect because we want more. For what we did this season it's perfect. We get the trophy which was our goal after seeing we couldn't get the Premier League. Now it's about finishing the league well and going to FA Cup.
"It's about winning the trophy. We have to take the trophy away from someone. We want to win the FA Cup. We know it's really important here. We know if we win it we stop the option for City getting the treble but for us it's about getting another trophy."
Ten Hag also gave his verdict on his side’s top four finish, which was a primary target in his first year as United manager.
"This club belongs in the Champions League,” said the United boss. “But it is not easy in the Premier League, it's tough. A lot compete for those positions - seven or eight teams. It's a massive performance when you get this done.
"We want to win. We showed a winning attitude. You can see Chelsea has outstanding players. Counter-attacks were really good, really dangerous. We should have scored more.
"It is progress. I remember after the second game, Brentford, it was tough. But we work good on the training pitch and we're improving. We're in the right direction but we know we are still not there.
"We are back in the Champions League. That is an important step. If you want to be successful you have to be in that competition."