Manchester United must win the Europa League for Jose Mourinho’s sake

Ed Nixon Roar Rookie

By , Ed Nixon is a Roar Rookie

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    Manchester United’s Europa League final against Ajax is a must win game for manager Jose Mourinho as he looks to silence his critics.

    A win in the final will assure United of Champions League football next season, something they haven’t achieved since Louis van Gaal’s first season in charge, during the 2014-15 campaign.

    United haven’t reached the knockout stages of the tournament since David Moyes guided the team to the quarter-finals in 2013-14, an unacceptable feat for a side which has a strong tradition of dominating world football.

    With Mourinho’s current side languishing in sixth place in the EPL, and no hopes of making the top four, the Europa League is their only way of joining Europe’s elite once more.

    Next Thursday’s final is an important one for Mourinho, not just for this season, but for his long-term future at Old Trafford.

    The Portuguese was brought in last summer with the objective to once again compete for the Premier League title, something he has failed to do.

    Despite spending big in the summer on the likes of Paul Pogba, Henrik Mkyitarayan and Eric Bailly, United haven’t been in the top four since the opening month of the season.

    During a frustrating season for Red Devils fans, which has seen their side draw 17 games in all competitions, players and coaches alike have come under increased pressure and criticism.

    Mourinho has been the target of much of this.

    The ‘Special One’ has seemingly spent the whole season placing the blame elsewhere when his side drops points, an act which has alienated him from many of the United fan-base.

    Victory over Ajax and qualification to the Champions League will be a huge step in the right direction, but defeat could spell danger for the Portuguese, especially given the way he has handled his squad in recent weeks.

    Mourinho has put all his eggs in one basket, with that basket being winning the Europa League.

    Is this the right thing to do though?

    Simply put, the answer is yes.

    Winning the Europa League is United’s only way of playing Champions League football next season, and Mourinho has known that for a long time.

    As United have progressed in Europe, their league form has faded away dramatically, largely due to Mourinho prioritising the former.

    Having rested key players ahead of their semi-final against Celta Vigo, United have seen a dip in their league form, picking up just two points from their last four games.

    Admittedly, United have been hampered by injuries this season, to the point where they only had 13 fit players for a recent game against Swansea, resulting in youth players Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay being thrust into the spotlight.

    If United are to lose to Ajax, Mourinho’s great plan will all of a sudden seem a little naive. Ajax are coming off a season where they finished second in the Dutch Eredivisie, and are capable of causing an upset.

    Another season without Champions League action will make it harder for United to attract big-name singings in the summer, as Mourinho looks to overhaul an under-performing squad.

    For his own sake, Mourinho better hope his side beats Ajax, because the consequences for not doing so could be costly.

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