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Should Manchester United Target Europa League Success Next Season?


Should Manchester United Target Europa League Success Next Season?

Following their sixth-placed finish in the Premier League, Manchester United will begin life under Erik ten Hag in the Europa League next season, as the Dutchman gets his Red Devils rebuild underway.

We’ve looked at whether Europa League success in the form of silverware, should be an aim for ten Hag’s men next season.

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A Chance for a Trophy Under ten Hag

Whilst it obviously isn’t the European competition that they hoped they would be in next season, the Europa League is still a big competition that United will compete in.

Ten Hag has a titanic job on his hands to get United back on track and closer to the top of the league, which will involve getting the current crop of lethargic and lacklustre players to perform at the highest level. Some European silverware would show that United are on the right lines and are getting better, with ten Hag’s methods bearing fruit.

The Europa League isn’t exactly an easy tournament to win, as United found out when they lost in the final to Villareal in last year’s competition. There are plenty of strong European giants in the latter stages, and for United to pick up the trophy at the end would be a good achievement that shows United are getting back to their best and winning trophies.

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Opportunity to Rotate & Play the Youth

United’s main focus next season will surely be the Premier League, especially after such a disappointing campaign this year that saw them finish sixth, 35 points adrift of their rivals and champions, Man City.

This could mean that Europa League success could be on the back burner in terms of priorities, with Thursday fixtures not being seen as the main concern with Sunday Premier League games right around the corner.

If that is the case and ten Hag elects to not fully commit to the Europa League, it gives United’s new head coach the opportunity to rotate his side, giving fringe players and youth players a run-out, especially in the earlier rounds and group stages.

One of the key characteristics that has been noted about ten Hag’s style, is his reputation of bringing through and developing youth. The likes of Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui, and Jurrien Timber are just some of the names that have flourished from Ajax’s academy and into title winners under the Dutchman.

The Europa League could be an opportunity for ten Hag to get a good look at some new prospects that he can blood into the first team, in a competition that a club as big as Manchester United shouldn’t really be in.

If United feel that the Europa League isn’t in their interests, a chance to try out youngsters such as Alejandro Garnacho and Hannibal Mejbri would be beneficial to offer game time in a European competition. This could be a bonus and one that could aid ten Hag’s reign in the long run.

Another Path to the Champions League

After his success at Ajax in the Eredivisie and in Europe, it’s clear that Erik ten Hag is a great manager and could be what United need to turn the club around and bridge the gap towards the big two in the Premier League.

However, it may not be an immediate impact from the former Bayern Munich youth coach, that gets United straight back to the top right away. A Europa League win might be needed for United whilst ten Hag begins to build.

Much has been made of ten Hag’s meticulous coaching methods and approaches, with a clear philosophy of how he wants to play and what he demands of his players. Therefore, the Dutchman will need time for his systems and techniques to be implemented and for the current United players to adapt to his way of coaching.

The Champions League is important for a European heavyweight like Manchester United, not just because of the huge chunk of revenue, sponsorship deals, and their global brand, but because of the star power it can attract – with the big players wanting to compete at Europe’s highest level.

With the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal continuing to improve and look strong, it may be a difficult ask for United to bounce back straight away into the top four and regain their seat at Europe’s top table.

This could mean that towards the end of next season, United may be looking at the Europa League as a way into the Champions League. It’s more than likely that another race for the top four will ensue next season, with United potentially being a part of that. A Europa League triumph could be an insurance policy for United to ensure their Champions League status.

Much Needed Silverware

The Europa League may not be regarded as one of the most prestigious trophies among the big clubs, but it is nevertheless still a major trophy.

Not only would a Europa League win next season show that United are progressing under their new management but would add more trophies to the Old Trafford trophy room, which has been deprived over recent years.

Jose Mourinho’s 2017 side was the last United team to bring silverware to Old Trafford, with a Europa League triumph being celebrated along with an EFL Cup. A trophy next season, whether that be the Europa League, FA Cup, or EFL Cup, surely needs to be on the agenda for United, otherwise, it’ll stretch to six years without a trophy – a crazy length of time for a club as big as Manchester United.