Having made an awful start to the Premier League campaign this season, Manchester United are in serious danger of missing out on a place in the top four.
Considering the strength of teams that are left in the Champions League, as well as the inadequacies of the United squad, Moyes may be able to guide the club to the quarter-final stages of the competition, but will be unlikely to go much further.
With the possibility of taking advantage of either of these avenues to Europe’s elite competition looking unlikely, then Manchester United may have to adjust their aims and try to at least reach the Europa League next season.
In fact, should they miss out on Champion’s League football then it is vital that they at least make UEFA less prestigious tournament. It is fair to say that there are many reasons for the importance of reaching the competition.
Firstly, it could soften the embarrassment of missing out on the main targets – with that embarrassment only to be enhanced with no European football at all. Secondly, it night help to minimize the damaging effect that missing out on the Champion’s League could have on the clubs ability to attract the best talent in the transfer market.
However, possibly more important than any other reason would be that it could potentially give the club the best opportunity of returning to the Champion’s League in the future, should they miss out this year. With the changes that come into place next season, the winners of the Europa League will book a spot in the Champion’s League in the 2015/16 season.
Considering the improvements at Arsenal and their newfound financial firepower, as well as the obvious strengths of both Chelsea and City, it is highly likely that they will continue to get better. Furthermore, should United drop out of the top 4, then whoever replaces them will have the huge added bonus of the riches that Champion’s League football provides. Therefore, if United fail to reach the Champion’s League this year then it could only get even tougher to do so next year, via the league at least.
However, it is not unreasonable to assume that they would have a good chance of winning the Europa League next year, should they find themselves in the competition. Based on their current league position though, their best chance may be via winning one of the domestic cups.
With the final of the League cup looking likely to be a Manchester derby, then this may be beneficial to United, even if they were to lose, as it would mean that the winners Europa league spot gets passed down to the league – assuming City win a place in European competition through the league, of course. Therefore, the top 6 teams in the league would be playing in Europe next season (instead of the top 5 as it currently stands).
However, with the competition at the top of the league being so fierce, this is not something that the club should rely on, especially given their poor performances so far this season. Of Course, the FA Cup is another option, but with an opening match against Swansea in the third round, plus a further five rounds after that, winning that competition is no guarantee.
With just a semi-final tie against Sunderland between them and a place at Wembley, Moyes needs to focus on the tournament. Of course, winning the cup would also give the fans something to be happy about in an otherwise disappointing season so far, but the potential long-term rewards could be so much greater.
Potentially, a win in the League Cup this season could be the start of an arduous battle which, whilst still requiring a lot of hard work, could help to steer the club away from years of mediocrity that could easily occur if they find themselves missing out on lucrative Champion’s League football for too long.
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