With three Premier League games remaining, Manchester United are now odds against to finish in the top four this campaign. Traditionally, securing one of the top spots in England’s primary division would be enough to guarantee Champions League football for the following campaign but United may need to win this year’s Europa League to compete on the big stage next year.
Jose Mourinho’s men went down 2-0 to Arsenal in their most recent league encounter, finally losing after embarking on an incredible unbeaten run since defeat against Chelsea back in October.
The Red Devils are currently ahead in the double header with Celta Vigo; young star Marcus Rashford netted a superb free kick in Spain to give United the advantage ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.
United, currently 4/7 to win the Europa League for the first time in their illustrious history, will be quietly confident of completing the job in front of an expectant home crowd in Manchester. At such short odds, it may instead be worth opting to use the free bets on offer from bookmakers to maximise a potential return.
Mourinho knows that winning Europe’s secondary competition is now United’s number one priority; especially with a limited squad due to a number of long-term injuries in recent weeks. Prior to the defeat to Arsenal, the Red Devils had looked strong in all competitions – and some have put their lacklustre effort against the Gunners down to fatigue.
The 20-time Premier League champions are four points behind arch-rivals Manchester City in the race for the top four and it may prove prudent for United to harness all of their efforts on the second leg against Celta Vigo before a potential final in Stockholm.
If the likes of Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial find their best form, it shouldn’t be too difficult for United.
Celta failed to inspire confidence in the first leg in Spain but United should expect a much tougher contest in Manchester. The La Liga side know that they have to score to stand any chance of advancing to the next round and they may go all out to snatch an early away goal.
Unfortunately, it looks like the top four is now out of reach. With a difficult schedule ahead, it would be naive for United fans to pray for their rivals to slip up.
Winning another European trophy is now the main objective and it is hard to see United falling short as they look to set up a potential showpiece clash against Ajax. If nothing else, Mourinho will be keen to add another crown to the glittering trophy cabinet at the Theatre of Dreams. After all, that is the why the United hierarchy appointed him.