Yet another dreadful result for Tottenham Hotspur today, showing that some clubs even manage to be worse than us in the big games this season, but they still remain above us in the league.
They’ve played against Arsenal on three occasions and have lost all three of them. They lost 4-0 to Chelsea, 6-0 to City away, 5-1 to City at home, 5-0 to Liverpool at home and today, 4-0 to Liverpool today. It’s worth noting that this team with seemingly no bottle whatsoever has still picked up more points than David Moyes’ Manchester United.
Still, as it stands, United avoid the embarrassment and distraction of playing in the Europa League. If Spurs manage to screw up their end of the season and allowed United to finish 6th, that place in Europa would be ours.
If Arsenal win the FA Cup, as you might imagine they would give then only teams remaining are Wigan, Hull and Sheffield United, there was some talk of the 7th placed team reaching Europa. In actual fact, who wins the FA Cup has no impact on the 7th placed team. The winner of the FA Cup will get Europa. If Arsenal win the FA Cup, whoever they beat in the final will get Europa.
Still, with just two points between us and Spurs, there’s every chance that United could finish 6th this season, which would condemn us to Europa football next season.
The competition would start for us in the Third qualifying round with the first leg taking place on July 31st and the second leg a week later. So, just two weeks after the World Cup finished, United could be playing against the team that finish 3rd in the Cypriot league, the fourth best side in Russia and the winners of the Austrian Cup.
In the third and fourth weeks of August, assuming we got through, we would then play in the play-off round, possibly against the winners of the Swiss Cup, the Danish Cup or the third best side in Ukraine.
Then comes the group stage which starts in the third week of September, meaning by the end of September you have played in five games in Europe. This season, by the end of September, we had played in one game in Europe.
The extra games knacker you out and if the prize waiting for you at the end is the European Cup then it is worth it. But the idea of playing all these games, more than you do in the Champions League, just to be in with a chance of winning the Europa League seems ridiculous. In weeks where we could be resting our players, making them better available for the Premier League game at the weekend, we would be travelling all over Europe. For our away fans, this is quite a prospect, getting to go to countries and grounds they’ve never been to before. But from a practical point of view, one that wants United to do as well as they possibly can next season, avoiding Europa would certainly be in our best interest.