You might think it difficult to find positives from Manchester United’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Wolfsburg on Tuesday evening.
But, when the dust settles, we think that there are several solid ones:
The Europa League is far better than no midweek footy
Manchester United fans will at least still have midweek football for the rest of the season. The once weekly fodder last season was difficult to take.
And the stark reality is that this competition is more at Manchester United’s level at the moment.
They would surely have been knocked straight out in the second round of The Champions League anyway so The Europa League at least offers regular mid-week football, a realistic chance of silverware and another route to next season’s Champions League (the winner of The Europa League now goes in The Champions League).
We think that Manchester United should take the competition very seriously. We also think that the fans will really enjoy it once the Champions League pain has subsided. A Liverpool – United final would surely whet the appetite?
The result will affect change
We think Louis van Gaal is a great chap. But, let’s face it. You can’t expect to spend £200m, not improve (in fact United have arguably got worse) and stay in your job. Even he was realistic after the game when he said:
“At the moment I cannot defend myself because we are out of the Champions League,”
“Every word I say is the wrong word. When you see the facts we went further in the Capital One Cup, we qualified for the Champions League group and we have played all these matches and we are still in a very good position in the Premier League. The facts do say we are better than last year. That’s my answer because I can only give facts. But I’m also disappointed that we are out of the Champions League.”
It’s 20 years since Louis won The Champions League and although he has been to a couple of finals since, he looks like a spent force. We think that it’s time for him to retire.
This defeat will surely prompt a rethink about what happens at the end of the season.
With progress so slow and almost indiscernible at times, Manchester United need to have a serious conversation at board level about making a change come May – or perhaps even sooner.