Both sides were knocked out of the Champions League on match day six and dropped down into UEFA’s second tier tournament.
My question is will Manchester United take the Europa League seriously?
I’m still not sure that Manchester United as a club has gotten over being knocked out of Europe’s elite competition. They have become accustomed to getting through the group stages of the competition with ease.
The defeat in Basel was completely unexpected and I’m sure nobody at the club was prepared for Thursday night football.
The Europa League is the only cup competition that Manchester United are still in with a chance of winning. They are of course competing for the Premier League title with Manchester City but the Red Devils have already exited both the Carling and FA cups.
The Europa League gives the club a chance at another trophy, albeit not the one that anybody would have been hoping for at the beginning of the season. I’m sure the players and Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn’t turn their nose up at another trophy in the Old Trafford cabinet.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has selected a strong squad for the visit to Amsterdam, so that obviously shows that he wants to progress in the competition. There had been speculation that the veteran Scot would include a number of reserve team players in the squad but the only youngsters present in the squad are Paul Pogba and Ezekiel Fryers.
Fergie was punished for fielding a number of fringe players against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup by the Red Devils exit from the competition. It doesn’t look like he is taking this competition lightly though.
I have spent the last week with a diehard Manchester United fan who really isn’t looking forward to their games in the Europa League. He seems to be the amongst the majority at Old Trafford. Maybe the United fans have been spoilt by year after year of Champions League football.
I think the fans should look at Europa League football as a positive, rather than a negative. As I stated earlier its an opportunity to win another trophy. With all due respect to United and their fans it was unlikely that they would have won the Champions League, as they showed by their group stage exit.
United have a far better chance of winning the Europa League, but it’s not certain that they will be victorious with some strong opposition in the competition, including their arch-rivals Manchester City. Ajax are one of the better teams in the competition.
The boys from Amsterdam dropped down to the Europa League after an extraordinary Lyon Champions League victory on match day six. They won’t be an easy side to beat but I think most observers expect United to progress past the Dutch champions.
I am not so naïve to think that United will has the Europa League at the top of their priority list. The Premier League title is obviously priority number one. However the Europa League could prove to be of more interest than expected for United and their fans this season.
Will Manchester United take the Europa League seriously?