Man United Win The Europa League: What Does This Mean?

Last night Man United beat Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League final to secure themselves a place in next year’s UEFA Champions League and securing the conclusion that it has been a good season for United. The match was perhaps overshadowed by the tragic events at the Manchester Arena two nights before, but maybe this spurred United on to win it.

The Reds showed just  how Manchester really is a ‘united city’, and to win the Europa league just 48 hours after 81 innocent people were injured, including 22 deaths, due to a suicide terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena proves to the world that Manchester is a city that can stand through anything, and come out stronger. Everyone, apart from maybe Ajax fans, was cheering on The Red Devils at The Friends Arena in Stockholm.

This is one of the instances that proves that sport and tragedy can bring the world together. We saw it last year in the Euros, where France held the tournament, despite all of their terrorism threats, and reached the final where they were unlucky to lose out to underdogs Portugal in the final. We have also seen instances such as when Chapecoense returned to action after their terrible plane crash, and where The Springboks won The Rugby World Cup, just months after Nelson Mandela was appointed as the first black president of South Africa.

But, on a slightly less sombre note, it also means there will be 5 English teams in The Champions League next year (assuming Liverpool win their qualifying round)! Jose Mourinho made no secret of the fact that he was prioritising The Europa League at the end of the season, and the risk has clearly paid off. United’s losses at Arsenal and Spurs confirmed that United would miss out on automatic Champions League football, even after having many chances to enter the top four, just to draw at home to sides like Bournemouth and West Brom.

But has the season been a success for United? Well, I think that if United had lost their final to Ajax, then the season would have been frowned upon. Players like Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David De Gea and the best they could do is win the league cup and fail to qualify for the Champions League? that would have been a real embarrassment for Jose, but now, winning three trophies (including the charity shield), getting Champions League football and going 25 games unbeaten? not too shabby for the first season under a new manager!

Surely United will be challenging for the title next season. It’s a well-known fact that Jose’s second season is his best, and with new players like Antoine Griezmann looking increasingly likely to be coming in, the squad really should be challenging for at least the double.

To conclude, Man United have shown the world that Manchester is a ‘united city’ and that it looks like Jose Mourinho is shaping his squad into something special. I’ll leave you with this to think about: is football more than just a game?

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