After Manchester United’s shock 2-1 loss to Sunderland last weekend, it looked like their 3-0 demolition of Stoke just 11 days earlier was a lot longer ago.
This season has been so inconsistent for the Red Devils. With the team now six points off the top four, and still with Manchester City, Leicester, Tottenham and Arsenal to play, a Champions League spot is starting to look extremely unlikely.
After being knocked out of the Champions League and suffering an inconsistent league campaign, United’s season is at risk of crumbling. They’re in danger of not being able unable to attract big name players any more. Considering the fans are already against Louis van Gaal, their only hope of resurrecting this season is to win a trophy.
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If they can’t get the top four, their best hope is to either win the FA Cup or win the Europa League. They have been given great ties in the competition, with FC Midtjylland set to face them in the Europa League on Thursday, and then Shrewsbury in the FA Cup on Monday, so there is no reason why they can’t do well in these competitions.
Manchester United haven’t won the FA Cup since 2003, and have only reached two finals in that time. As a Manchester United fan myself, the chance to see the team win the FA Cup is one I have been dreaming of in those long 13 years. Since then, Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League, Chelsea and Manchester City have emerged as the country’s powerhouses, and Arsene Wenger still hasn’t worked out how to do up his coat.
In the FA Cup this season, United have been drawn against Sheffield United, Derby and now Shrewsbury. They are all relatively easy ties that a club like United should be winning. With the possibility of Manchester City or Chelsea getting knocked out this weekend, it could be Manchester United’s best hope of winning the cup this season if they can successfully negotiate a potential banana skin in Shrewsbury.
Although Arsenal and Liverpool may still stand in the way, you have to feel that if United stay injury free and serious about the competition, that they could go far in the FA Cup this season. After all, it is the one trophy Wayne Rooney hasn’t won at the club, and if he is looking to move to America, then this season will be his best opportunity.
As for the Europa league, Southampton have already struggled against FC Midtjylland in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. Whether or not the side were fully focused upon this tie is another story, but if United really want Champions League football next season, winning this competition is currently their best route.
They will be one of the more stronger sides in the competition, alongside Dortmund, Ajax, Liverpool, Tottenham and Valencia.
Louis van Gaal’s side need to take the competition seriously, and hope that the Memphis Depay decides to turn up, instead of the kind of Depay we’ve gotten used to in the Premier League.
With a league meeting with Arsenal after the second leg, United will want to tie up the match early on, and hope they can progress in the competition.
Should the Red Devils take advantage of the FA Cup and Europa League, then it could be their best route to the Champions League.