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Mourinho during a press conference.

What Jose Mourinho said about the Europa League at the start of this season

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Manchester United endured a disappointing 2016-17 Premier League campaign, finishing sixth, however they still have the chance to turn this season into a successful one.

That is because the Red Devils can add to February's EFL Cup triumph on Wednesday night when they battle Ajax in the Europa League final.

United are favourites heading into the clash, however both they and their supporters should be wary of the Dutch giants, who have assembled a dangerous, youthful side.

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Not only will a win give Jose Mourinho's men the prestige of a European trophy, but it'll also put them straight into the Champions League for next season, bypassing the qualification rounds.

It's been a long and winding road to Stockholm for Man Utd, having already played 14 games in this year's Europa League, but what exactly was Mourinho's attitude towards the competition at the start of the season?

Let's not forget that, following the signings of Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, United were expected to challenge for the league title and comfortably make the top four.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-SOUTHAMPTON

There were mixed attitudes amongst supporters as to how United should approach the Europa League, seeing as it could offer a chance to blood the likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe and the club's other Academy graduates.

What Jose said about the Europa League

Ahead of their opening match at Feyenoord in September, which they lost 1-0, Mourinho said, via FourFourTwo: "It is too early to talk about winning this competition, but this is a big club and the next match is always important when you play for Manchester United.

"The Europa League isn't a competition United want to be in, it's not the big dream of every big player. But we want to win the competition.

Manchester United Training and Press Conference

"It is difficult to do it, but it is easier to feel it and to say it out loud. And that is the way we want to approach this competition."

After stating that he will respect each and every opposition, Mourinho continued: "If you see what happened last season, against Midtjylland (2-1 loss), you don't forget that as a fan. Maybe as a player, but not the fans. We have to make sure we are not sleeping."

He added: "We have to look at it with respect. I think we want to do well in the competition, and for a club of our dimension (size) to do well is not to be out in the group phase."

Wednesday is huge for United

Despite a 25-match unbeaten league run, as the season progressed, it became increasingly clear that winning the Europa League was United's best route in next year's Champions League - and that's proved to be true.

A win in Wednesday's massive game will see them achieve what Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool all have this term, with the extra benefit of adding some silverware to their trophy cabinet.

Manchester United v Southampton - EFL Cup Final

Who do YOU think will win the Europa League final: Ajax or Man Utd? Leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below!

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Topics:
Europa League
Football
Paul Pogba
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Paris Saint-Germain

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