Manchester United legend Denis Law believes Sir Alex Ferguson's side should retain the ambition of winning the Europa League this season, rather than view the competition as a mid-week headache.

Having got the better of Ajax over two legs, the Premier League champions face Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford on Thursday, in the first instalment of their last 16 tie.

The Red Devils are, naturally, among the favourites to lift the trophy in Bucharest in May having been granted a place in the competition following their failings in the Champions League.

Featuring in Europe's second-tier club competition is almost an insult to United, given their pedigree in the Champions League in recent seasons.

But in the Europa League they are, and the chance to win silverware is one they should not give up on lightly.

That is certainly the opinion of former Old Trafford star Law, who hopes United can go all the way in the competition this season.

"…there's a fair chance United could go on and win it," he told

"It's a shame for some of the teams who started the season in the Europa League when sides like United and Man City later come into it from the Champions League.

"But that's the way European football has gone and I'm glad we're still in Europe. It's great for young players to get the experience of playing against foreign teams.

"It's lovely for the fans as well because we enjoy watching the other sides.

"In the old days, this competition used to have the second-placed teams from each league.

"Now it has teams who finished fifth or sixth but they're not poor sides. The quality of teams in the Europa League is still good."

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