If Mourinho wins it then he will have a cup double and no United boss has ever done that in his first season… the only stumbling block are injuries
MANCHESTER UNITED are three wins away from qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season.
And at this stage in the season it really isn’t hard to see why Jose Mourinho is prioritising the Europa League.
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First up is Celta Vigo in the semi-final.
If we can navigate past the tricky Spaniards who have only lost once at home in the Europa League this season then we’ll face Ajax or Olympique Lyonnais in the final.
While all those ties are tough, the Red Devils would head into any of them as heavy favourites and so far we’ve coped with that pressure.
Our form in the Europa League has been largely impressive.
Some of the performances haven’t been superb but we’ve always ground out the results and the same can’t be said for the Premier League.
Two confident wins over Chelsea and Burnley were followed by a gritty point at Manchester City and a dismal point against Swansea from a game we deserved to lose.
Arsenal and Man City might be dropping points for fun but Liverpool’s win over Watford gives them the upper hand in the top four chase and up next for United? Away trips to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
United are still in the hunt for a top four spot but winning the Europa League is certainly our best route to the Champions League next year.
A fixture pile-up hasn’t helped United but Mourinho’s complaints about it are falling on deaf ears somewhat.
Of course we want to have a bucket-load of fixtures at this point, it’s the mark of a good season, but United’s awful injury problems are causing no end of issues.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo both suffered season ending cruciate injuries in the win over Anderlecht, Juan Mata is only just coming back from groin surgery while Paul Pogba has been sidelined since Burnley as well.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah suffered a dislocated shoulder, Luke Shaw damaged his ankle ligaments against Swansea and Eric Bailly hobbled off in the same game.
To top it off, we’ve been without Phil Jones and Chris Smalling ever since the last international break.
That’s why United have struggled so much in the last few weeks.
A depleted squad is starting to look exhausted and having a few players return to action this week is crucial because we’ll need our full squad to get past Celta Vigo and challenge both Arsenal and Spurs back in the Premier League.
If we had a full squad without injuries, we wouldn’t be struggling as much but that’s part of football and Mourinho knows that.
Will this season be a failure if we don’t finish in the top four and don’t want to win the Europa League? Absolutely.
Mourinho wasn’t brought in to win the League Cup but this season could end up being one of the best debut seasons by any United manager.
If Mourinho wins the Europa League then he’s won a cup double and no United manager has ever won a title in his first season, let alone two.
I’d love to see United win the Europa League. It’s no Champions League but we’ve never won it and it’s a European trophy.
Given our injury woes, United have coped well with having nine games in April and with a possible seven coming up in May there is no let up for Mourinho’s side starting with this trip to Spain on Thursday.
Win there and we’ll have one foot in the Europa League final and a Champions League spot.
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