Two thirds of the way through the season and with United still fighting on four fronts, the Red Thoughts discuss their priorities in regard to silverware.
JIM: I think we will get top four, at either City’s or the Scousers’ expense. The FA Cup we can definitely win – we have players such as Zlatan who love the big occasion and we have what it takes to win it. The League Cup we should win – we have more than enough quality to beat Southampton. With the Europa League I’m not sure – I’d love to say we will win it, but there are some quality teams in there and I do think we could get knocked out at some stage, especially considering we need to consider fighting for top 4 as well. In summary, I think we’ll get the League Cup, FA Cup and a top four finish with a run to the semis of the Europa League.
DAN: For me, I think for a decent finish to the season we have to go all season undefeated. I think we should win the League Cup, as I don’t fear Southampton. The FA Cup is a lottery at the moment – we can beat anyone on our day. I think we are favourites for the Europa League but there are some tough games in there, thats if we get past St Etienne.
RICK: With the League Cup final coming, we have a realistic chance of picking up some early silverware which will boost the morale around the whole club and give the players and manager confidence in what they are trying to achieve. What do you guys think the effect will be of a potential early trophy? In not only providing silverware, but how it could influence the rest of our season? Equally so if we don’t win any silverware.
REX: A lot of fans think that the league is the only ‘worthy’ trophy so to speak. I think that is a terrible attitude. We’ve got a squad capable of winning the domestic cups, Europa league and top 4; I don’t see why there’s such a reluctance to go for them, especially the Europa, which is actually a back door ticket to the UCL and a competition we’ve never won. Silverware is silverware … I just hope the players don’t think the same, that they can just pick and choose what to compete for.
RICK: I don’t know why people think that. Probably because they don’t have the squad to win multiple trophies. But the more trophies you win you create a winning culture and that is what he history of United is all about. A winning culture, no matter what trophy it is, we want it. Plus the confidence boost it gives the players and squad is huge.
I mean, let’s face it, every player plays football to win trophies, no matter how small they are. I’m sure the Arsenal players won’t be saying they don’t want to win a trophy and that is why they had a history of losing their best players – a lack of trophies and winner’s medals.
HEMOR: I don’t fancy the EFL, but I want us to win it because like you said, silverware is silverware. If it were up to me though, I’d play more academy players in the EFL, even if we end up losing.
BETS: I would actually prefer to finish 6th in the league and win the Europa, than finish 2nd or 3rd and win nothing. I think I’ve said before that being successful in Europe is a habit. I remember Mourinho’s Porto winning the UEFA Cup (as it was then) in 2003 I think (mind you with a lot of diving and cheating against Celtic) then went on to win the Champions League the following year (Scholes was a yard onside of course, but I’m not bitter). Despite the brilliant manager, I don’t think they would have had the self belief to win the UCL had they not had that success in UEFA the year before.
I agree Rick that the League Cup will be key to the rest of our season. Mou keeps saying that the players need to learn the importance of winning. If we lose to Southampton, they will still be missing that self-belief, but winning is addictive and if we do win, I think we could go on a good run. Also winning that game will assure us of European football next season no matter what, which isn’t a bad thing to have secured.
REX: in England there’s this myth that top 4 is the be all and all of the world and that teams should forsake it all for those positions. That is great for a team that needs the money, but for a team that doesn’t like United, what’s the purpose of getting into the UCL and not even be considered as a potential winner? Because if we were to ask even the most biased fan as to which team from England can actually win the UCL, there’d be a chorus of laughs. So then it’s just about bragging until they get knocked out! Two teams from England have won the UCL in the past decade and a half, nearing 2 now – United and Chelsea (who coincidentally finished well outside the top 4 when they won it!)
So as you say, If we won Europa and the two domestic cups and remained sixth, I’d be more than happy with our season, because at least there’s something the players and fans can show for it. Not to mention a day or two out at Wembley (if we make both finals) and if we make it to the Europa one, that’s another great day out!
Hemor, he would have played kids if we were the old United who won almost on a yearly basis. But this team needs to get that winning feeling again regardless of the competition. That’s partly why he’s putting out strong teams. The other part is Mourinho has his own demons to exorcize, plus he’s chasing Fergie on the trophy count. He’s well on his way … all we need is for our goalscorers to find some confidence and form.
RICK: I totally agree with what you’ve said Rex. People keep giving Mourinho stick about not playing the youngsters. But you can’t always do that when you’re trying to instill a winning mentality back into the club and its players. I also agree about the trophy thing. Trophies are more important than league position at times. Winning the Europa is more important than top four in my opinion. It gives us a trophy and guarantees Champions League next season. Winning the EFL also gives us a trophy.
It’s only fans and Arsene Wenger who prioritise top four over a cup. Like I already mentioned, I would much prefer for us to win the EFL and the Europa than to get top four. Chelsea have won the league, I believe, unless they majorly slip up, but even so, we should still consider the league important and chase top four. But when we’re in the final of the EFL and in the Europa League still we should definitely be trying to win both.