At the start of the season, if a United fan had been told that in the coming May they would be hoping Manchester City beat Liverpool to the title while their side scramble to replace an embarrassingly unsuccessful David Moyes, they would have refused to believe that things could be that bad.

Similarily, for Tottenham fans, this has been somewhat of a season to forget. Last August the side were starting a season with a manager who got them to their highest points tally in history in the previous campaign, and spent in excess of £100m replacing Gareth Bale with players some critics amounted to the Beatles taking over from Elvis. Now, with AVB long gone and the side out of the running for Champions League football, it's been far from what fans were hoping their May would be like.

The reality, now, is that both sides have only a chance at qualifying for Europa League football. As Manchester City confirm their spot in the top four and Champions League football cancels out their Capital One Cup qualification for the tournament, sixth place becomes the last oportunity for either United or Tottenham to play European football next season. Currently Tim Sherwood's men are holding the advantage.

For Spurs, it's another disappointment that has happened every season since their first foray into Champions League glory in 2010, where they made the quarter final and fans couldn't hide their joy despite the side going out to Real Madrid 5-0.

For United, it's the first time since 1995-96 that they won't be in Europe's top-tier competition. Interim manager Ryan Giggs is insistent that the side will aim for Europa League football but this is simply a fruitless goal, considering how English clubs have performed in the past in the competition and it's effect on their Premier League form.

Tottenham would equally possibly benefit from a season out of European football all-together. Spurs only need to look at Liverpool's success this season without the tournament distracting them to see the positive in not travelling to Russia/Romania/Cyprus/etc. on a Thursday night to play a group stage qualifying match that some fans have trouble working out the point of.

English football has a history of disdain for the Europa League though managers of clubs participating have always been publicly supportive of the competition, albeit through gritted teeth. Even Sir Alex Ferguson put on a fake smile when United were relegated there from the Champions League group stages in 2011, though his selections suggested he was privately much more concerned with glory in his own country.

The fact is that there is little benefit to a top English team participating in the Europa League at present; the money prize isn't enough to buy one player of the caliber required, and the fixture list puts a strain on a side pushing to get from top half of the table into top four. And the reputation of the club who wins certainly isn't enough to coax players in the summer who might be considered by a much more glamorous Champions League competitor – Liverpool again proved this as they missed out on multiple top targets during the three seasons they were out of the competition.

Chelsea might have celebrated their Europa League trophy win with a particular gusto as they looked back on an otherwise tumultuous season under Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez. But Jose Mourinho's comments on the tournament summed up how most top managers feel about it when he arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer, saying: "I don't want to win the Europa League. It would be a big disappointment for me. I don't want my players to feel the Europa League is our competition."

While it may pain United fans, not participating in European football for a season might be just the ticket to giving the side a chance to rebuild under a new manager with proven credentials. The club will still have the pull to bring in top players wanting to be a part of life after Sir Alex and with Louis van Gaal possibly taking over it's tough to look past them as a possible contender for the title again next season.

In Tottenham's case, a season away from the extra commitments of European football could catapult them into the territory Liverpool are enjoying now. They signed so much talent last summer which are yet to come to fruition but should their strikers find form with a new manager who can get the club back to their attacking best, next season could find Spurs pushing hard for that fourth place once more.

Whoever finishes on top in the Premier League table in the next fortnight will certainly celebrate it publicly, but with the tough fixtures and lack of clout that the Europa League offers, and the alternative of a season to concentrate on league positioning, the side that comes out the winner could be facing a double-edged sword.