This is a strange marriage of little, if any, convenience. The winners from this unlikely union, when it reaches it’s inevitable conclusion, will be the competition.
Wherever United play they will virtually guarantee a full house and a worldwide TV audience. This cannot help but raise the profile of the tournament. What will United gain from their inclusion in this year’s Big Vase?
They will, providing they win it, gain automatic qualification for next season’s Champion’s League. This, however, is not how José Mourinho dreamed it would be. He is much more interested in winning the Premier League or, at least, finishing in the top three which would also guarantee Big Cup competition next season.
It also seems that the players, or certainly some of them, are struggling to get motivated for these Thursday night games.
The recent defeat by Feyenoord, where United played OK, nothing more nothing less, was followed by a defeat to Watford. Unfortunately, their win against Zorya Luhansk was followed by a draw against Stoke City. Again, United played OK but hardly looked like the same team which had just beaten the current champions 4-1 at the weekend.
So what is it about the Europa League which only seems to bring out the best in Sevilla.
Firstly, maybe it is a snob thing. United don’t think they should be playing in this competition because they think they are too big and too good. If this attitude has worked it’s way down to the players then it needs changing quickly.
It is very obvious by their presence in the tournament that they are neither too big nor too good. If they were then they would be taking part in the Champion’s League The reason they are not playing in Europe on Tuesday or Wednesday nights is because, as big as they are, they are not good enough yet and the sooner some of the egotistical players accept that fact the better.
The new signings don’t have an attitude problem. All four of them left clubs who had qualified for the Champion’s League to play for United. They also didn’t leave small clubs with Pogba signing from Juventus, Ibrahimovic from PSG, Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund and Eric Bailly from Villareal.
So the problem must lie with others. José Mourinho does not want to be in the Europa League but he accepts things for what they are and gets on with trying to win it. He possibly needs to do more to convince some of the players that they owe more to the supporters than just paying lip service to a competition which can still boast some exceptional teams.
When all said and done United probably won’t win the Europa League but they should qualify for next season’s Champion’s League through their own league position. This will immediately resign any failure in Europe to the dustbin of history where it will be quickly forgotten.
Occasionally, the manager should remind the team how many hard working people paid their hard earned cash to travel to Old Trafford and beyond, on cold and rainy Thursday nights, to watch some of their heroes give 50% effort to a competition they should have been favourites to win.
He may, while on the subject, also remind them that they are paid extortionate amounts of money to give 100% in every game. It is not up to them to pick and choose the games they try and win and the ones in which they take a rest.
In other words, the history and tradition of the club needs to be explained to some of the players who are, evidently, unaware of it.