Fortune: United will finish in top four
League Cup win shows Man United can grind out a result, says ex-Red Devil Quinton Fortune
It is often said that the hallmark of champions is the ability to grind out results.
Former Manchester United player Quinton Fortune believes the Red Devils demonstrated just that in their 3-2 League Cup final victory on Sunday.
The 39-year-old South African said that the return of this winning mentality, which wasn't always evident after Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013, will propel United back into next season's Champions League.
Fortune, who played as left back and midfielder for United from 1999 to 2006, added that the cup win will act as a perfect launchpad for them in a season where the race for the top four has looked the tightest in years.
"We will qualify for the Champions League, no doubt; the way they have been playing, the confidence is there," said Fortune, at the sidelines of Kansai Paint's sponsorship of amateur football side Oners FC at the Marina Bay Financial Centre yesterday.
"Even though we didn't play well in the (League) Cup final, we still had the mentality of winning games and found a way to win.
"We have the right manager and the right players. I have all the belief that the team can qualify for the Champions League next season."
While Chelsea seem to be running away with the Premiership title, the gap between the top-four hopefuls is narrow.
United, sixth in the league on 48 points, are only two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, on 53 points, have just nine more than seventh-placed Everton, with about one-third of the season still to go.
"It's not going to be easy going into this part of the season; it is so competitive and there are so many good teams out there," said former United player Ronny Johnsen, who was also at the Kansai event yesterday.
Kansai wants to be No. 1 in its field, and so does United, and this partnership has been amazing...Former Manchester United player Quinton Fortune on the club’s official paint partner Kansai Paint
"But it looks bright for United right now because winning a trophy does a lot for their confidence, and they are growing in every game they play."
United are linked with several big-name transfers in the summer, such as Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann.
The club have certainly spent big after Ferguson's retirement.
Three players alone - Paul Pogba, Angel di Maria and Juan Mata - have cost United close to a total of £186 million (S$323.6m) in transfer fees.
The outlay has led to some fans complaining that the club have shifted away from their proud policy of grooming youngsters from the academies.
But Fortune countered: "The Class of 92 were good enough and they came into the team, and that has always been the philosophy at United.
"You don't put youngsters in the team just because they are in (the academy); they have to have the right quality and mentality."
Johnsen added: "In the last few years, you have seen youngsters coming up in the system... but we've always had to bring in big players as well. Sir Alex knew that.
"When I came to United, the likes of Scholesy (Paul Scholes) and the Class of 92 were coming up, but we had experience in the team too, and that's what is also happening at United now."
While Jose Mourinho is the first United manager to win a major trophy in his first season in charge, Fortune warned fans against premature talk of the Portuguese building a dynasty that can match Fergie's reign.
He said: "Sir Alex kept creating new teams every few years, so we have to be patient because Mourinho has been at the club for only six months. He has brought in new players, and they've had to adapt.
"To compare him with Sir Alex is difficult because Sir Alex had 27 years at the club; Mourinho will create his own legacy, and it will be the Jose Mourinho legacy."