The season is well underway now, and already hopes of a top four finish for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his first full season are quickly diminishing. Since United’s opening day win against Chelsea, they have only won once in six outings.
The odds on United finishing in the top-four are going higher with every passing week, and punters who still believe they can do it should take advantage of the welcome offer on this page. Although, others may be hopeful that the secondary option of the Europa League could now prove to be United’s best route into the Champions League.
This is only the second time that the club has been placed in the group stages of Europe’s secondary competition, and that first time didn’t go too badly. United managed to avoid an embarrassing exit to make it all the way through to the final in that particular season.
But, it is worth remembering that Jose Mourinho sacrificed the league form towards the backend of that season and placed all his eggs in the Europa League basked, which was something that could have been a disastrous mistake. Of course, it is still too early at this stage to contemplate sacrificing league form, but should it get to a decisive point in the second half of the season, then the correct decision needs to be made.
Solskjaer has already been adamant through the preparations for the Europa League that he will give the younger players a chance to shine. That was evident with Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong both starting, and Mason Greenwood scoring the winner. It would be interesting to see how long the Norwegian will stick by that ruling should United get to a point where a success in the Europa League is the only route into the top-tier competition.
During the first season under Mourinho, he began to field stronger sides as the competition progressed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba both started every game for United in the Europa League in the second half of the season. Solskjaer may also opt for that same principle, but if the younger players are impressing it would be extremely difficult to leave them out.
Qualification into the Champions League this season should be considered an essential factor. United can’t miss out on another season without playing in the best club competition in the world. It would have a negative impact on any potential transfer plans that the club may have in place, with players such as Jadon Sancho unlikely to swap Champions League football for a season in the Europa League.
It would also be essential to keep the better players at the club. The most notable of which would be Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has his critics, but he is undoubtedly the best player at Old Trafford, and when he isn’t in the side United are weaker. Keeping him, and building around the World Cup winner would be the best way to rebuild Manchester United, and that can only be done with Champions League football at Old Trafford.
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