It’s Time For Manchester United And José Mourinho To Put This One To Bed

Posted: May 24, 2017 in Chelsea, Europa League, European Football, Football, Manchester United, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Final

The main reason Manchester United have never won the Europa League before is because it is a competition in which they have rarely been involved and, when they have been, they haven’t taken it particularly seriously.

Even under it’s previous incarnation as the UEFA Cup, it was a trophy only flirted with on four occasions since Sir Alex Ferguson took over in 1986. On those four occasions they lost to what can only be described as mediocre opponents.

In the 1992-93 season they were knocked out in the first round by Torpedo Moscow.

In 1995-96 they were also knocked out in the first round, this time by Rotor Volgograd.

It was to be a further 16 years  before they were in the tournament again and this time because they had failed to progress from the group stage of the Champion’s League, a fact which caused Ferguson to use it as a stick with which to beat his squad. Consequently they were eliminated in the round of 16 having lost both home and away to Athletic Bilbao and were left with no European football reasonably early that particular season.

The next time United had a chance to add this trophy to their list was in 2015-16 season under Louis van Gaal. Again they lost in the round of 16 and another opportunity had been missed.

It is fair to say that Manchester United have never really felt comfortable in this competition thinking, no doubt, that their rightful place was in the Champion’s League. The fact, as mentioned earlier, that they have always lost to reasonably average opposition, (and in some cases, unknown opposition), in the Europa League tends to bear out this argument.

Certainly, since Fergie retired, United have been nowhere near good enough to go any distance in the Champion’s League and, as we all know, only qualified for it once by finishing fourth under van Gaal.

With José Mourinho, however, comes a new optimism. United should be able to beat Ajax in Stockholm and such a result would earn them automatic qualification to next season’s Champion’s League. They are still nowhere near good enough to go any distance in the competition but that’s as they are now. Hopefully two or three additions to the squad will change that and we can hope for a decent run in the tournament.

There are players who would be far more likely to join United if Champion’s League qualification was to be achieved, so it is important from that point of view also. It is true that United can survive very comfortably without it but the loss of prestige and attraction is a serious degradation of the club and only gets worse the longer it goes on.

Financially it is also an important competition as many of the sponsors have clauses which dictate how much they will pay if Champion’s League qualification is not achieved, meaning that their contribution decreases when this happens.

Remember that Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Henrik Mkhitaryan all left clubs who had qualified for the Champion’s League to go to United, who hadn’t. So the “pulling power” is obviously still there. A lot of it though, depends on who is the manager at the time and it is fairly certain that these four players were also swayed in their decision by the fact that José Mourinho is the man in charge. This, in their minds, would mean that their non-participation in Europe’s top competition would be a very temporary state of affairs.

Let’s hope they are right and that we will see the likes of Antoine Griezmann at Old Trafford next season.


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