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Although José Mourinho was disappointed to lose to Feyenoord in Rotterdam, it was quite difficult to detect it in his post-match interview.

Stating that the team played better in the second half and that a few of the players were tasting their first minutes of football this season didn’t really tell us anything that we didn’t already know.

The conclusions drawn from the team selection and, consequently, the result is that, despite what he says to the press, José Mourinho doesn’t really care about this competition.

He makes all the right noises when he says that he is motivated. but then admits that it is his job to pass that motivation on to the players, suggesting that they are not quite as motivated as their manager.

The other contradiction, for me, is the players who were playing for the first time this season. This is a European competition. If United have any real interest in reaching the final then it is not the time to be giving players their first game.

In leaving Shaw, Valencia and Rooney at home Mourinho was saying one of two things. Either he thought he could pick a team good enough to beat Feyenoord, (the current, unbeaten leaders of the Eredivisie), or he didn’t really care about the result.

There is a third possibility which is that, because it was only the first game, he actually wasn’t too bothered about the score as United should still be able to qualify from this group without too much of a problem.

Whatever his way of thinking United got what they deserved, nothing.

Although they had the majority of the possession, the majority of chances and the majority of attempts on goal, they still didn’t look like scoring. Similar to the game against City, they flattered to deceive.

It came as no real surprise when they were caught by a sucker punch late in the game, which meant that Feyenoord went on to top the group after a 1-1 draw between the other two teams.

Yet again, too many players played badly. Marcos Rojo is out of place at United. Matteo Darmian went missing at times. Chris Smalling continues to look like Bambi on ice and Memphis Depay and Ashley Young, who came on as second half substitutes, may just as well have stayed on the bench.

Whilst agreeing with Mourinho’s probable way of thinking that United should still qualify from this group with relative ease, there is still a caveat.

Sir Alex Ferguson once found himself in this competititon when his team got it all wrong in the Champion’s League. They went on to get it all wrong all over again in the Europa League and exited the competition almost as soon as they entered it.

As with Mourinho this time, there were skeptics then who were convinced that Ferguson deliberately threw this tournament in order to concentrate on the Premier League and qualification for Champion’s League the following season.

What has changed since the days of Ferguson is that the winners of the Europa League now qualify automatically for the Champion’s League, so there is some merit in winning the thing.

The difference, however, between José Mourinho and the likes of Louis van Gaal or David Moyes, is that Mourinho is super-confident. He does not need the Europa League to qualify for the Champion’s League. He is sure he will do it by winning the Premier League or, at worst, finishing in the top three so no pre-qualification qualifying is required.

Unless he comes out and admits that he has no real interest in the Europa League, it is impossible to know whether or not there is any truth in the rumour. He is unlikely to do so because Manchester United, as a club, will still see it as a money-spinner and the suits will want to go as far as possible in the competition, regardless of how José Mourinho feels about it.

So, on this basis, he has to appear as though he is trying to win it. If he tries hard enough, who knows, he may actually win it and then, because he doesn’t rate it very highly, he can throw his medal into the crowd as he has been known to do in the past.

As has been said previously, Manchester United fans will soon forget about the Europa League, even if they have won it, should the club lift the Premier League trophy next May!

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Comments
  1. Vincent says:

    The other group match did not end goalless.

    Like

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