Friday 12 May 2017

United look to complete the set in seventh European final

United completed the job against Celta Vigo to set up a seventh European final and first for six years.

We've won four of our previous six finals, with the two defeats coming against the all conquering Barcelona juggernaut in 2009 and 2011.

The UEFA Cup/Europa League remains the one missing piece of the Old Trafford jigsaw. 

In recent seasons, and bearing in mind United's rich history in the European Cup/Champions league, winning Europe's second rate tournament would be considered an unwanted honour.

Now it is considered a must win as the Reds look to complete the set of European honours and become only the fifth club side to win all three major UEFA club competitions.

Incidentally, the other four are Champions League finalists Juventus, Bayern Munich, Premier League champions Chelsea and our opponents in this final, Ajax. 

Sir Alex led United to Cup Winners Cup glory in 1991, as two Mark Hughes goals beat Barcelona on that famous night in Rotterdam.
Two more glorious triumphs were to follow as Ferguson built two more swashbuckling sides to deliver the treble in 1999 and a league and European double in 2008.

Then came those two crushing defeats in those showpieces, the latter of which was described by Ferguson as the toughest of his career.

A controversial refereeing decision robbed him and the team of one final stab at European glory, as Nani's red card scuppered what had looked to be a perfect tactical victory over Real Madrid in his last season. 

David Moyes took United into the quarter finals, but we failed to get out of the group last season under LVG in a third placed finish - an unpalatable campaign that ended with a Europa League KO against Liverpool. 

Expectations were high that Jose Mourinho would bring an end to the malaise that has bogged the club down since Sir Alex's retirement in 2013.

United have finished seventh, fourth and fifth in the three campaigns since, and Mourinho arrived with loftier ambitions than simply scraping another top four finish.

He's already become the first United boss to win silverware during his debut season with the EFL Cup success, and as our league form faltered, winning the Europa League quickly became the priority.
It was a bold if understandable decision but one that will only be justified with victory in Stockholm on 24 May. 

Despite a number of underwhelming performances, particularly at home, there is a feeling that United are definitely moving forward under Mourinho.

To prove that the club are, finally, showing positive signs of life after Fergie, we must complete the job and bring home that trophy from Stockholm. 

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