Former Chelsea midfield believes that Manchester United’s biggest asset in the Champions League lies with their manager.
Jose Mourinho‘s men got off to the perfect start on their return to Europe’s elite with a 3-0 win over Swiss champions FC Basel on Tuesday night.
They will travel to Moscow in a fortnight to face CSKA Moscow before taking on Benfica – seemingly their biggest threat in Group A – in back-to-back clashes in October.
And Lampard, writing in the London Evening Standard, emphasised that supporters can be hopeful of seeing their side enjoy a successful run in Europe this year because of the man in the dugout.
“They will comfortably get through their group,” he wrote.
“With the squad they have now and how manager Jose Mourinho is, you have to say they will get to the last eight at the very least.
“Mourinho is their biggest asset. You saw it in the Europa League last season. They had a very average Premier League season, but when it came to the crunch in the cup games, Mourinho did the business.
“People will say it’s the players that do it on the pitch, but you only have to look at how Mourinho set the team up against Ajax in the Final – he was very pragmatic about it, dealt with their threats and worked on his team’s strengths. Mourinho comes up with a way to win games.”
Man United’s only Champions League campaign under Louis van Gaal never really felt like much of a Champions League campaign.
They never even entered a two goal lead. Not once in six games. Mourinho’s side have done that in 53 minutes. And they never looked like winning away – not even for one second – and didn’t really deserve either of their two home wins over Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow. Put simply: it was painful.
Under the Portuguese, however, United have reached an important threshold. Strolling to a comfortable 3-0 win at against a Swiss side does not render you favourites to win the competition, but it does show you are at least ready to compete beyond the group stages.
The road is long, with better opponents around the corner, but supporters have every right to feel confident with a two-time Champions League winner – and last season’s Europa League conquerer – in the dugout.