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Why Man United and Saints should take Europa League seriously as silverware opportunities

Robbie Purves | September 12, 2016

Why Man United and Saints should take Europa League seriously

The first Europa League game of the group stage is nearly here, and there is English interest in the continent’s second tier competition.

Many Premier League teams haven’t taken the tournament seriously in recent years and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has previously given his frank views on it.

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Both United and Southampton will be in action this Thursday, but the question remains, will they give it their full attention?

Here, Coral football writers detail why Man Utd and Saints should take the Europa League seriously…

Will Mourinho’s attitude change?

New Red Devils boss Mourinho has previous produced some fairly disparaging comments on the competition. At Chelsea, the two-time Champions League winner said: “I don’t want to win the Europa League. It would be a big disappointment for me. I don’t want my players to feel the Europa League is our competition… it is not good for a big club to go there and win it.”

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However, on Man Utd drawing a group that includes dutch giants Feyenoord and Fenerbahce, Mourinho likened his side’s pool in the sister club competition to one that would normally in Europe’s premier tournament.

He said: “It’s good for us because we think we’re in the Champions League. There are very similar groups in the Champions League.”

Manchester Utd vs Southampton - Premier League - Old Trafford Stadium

So has his attitude changed? Maybe not. He has already mentioned their will be wholesale changes to the side that lost to Manchester City. However, this may not be a bad thing, giving United’s quality youngsters, of which Marcus Rashford is one, regular first team playing will only benefit Mourinho’s bid to secure his main goal, the Premier League title, if he needs to call upon his talented starlets.

United’s boss taking the tournament seriously would set a precedent at the club, that no matter what, from top to bottom, you endeavour to win every trophy.

Saints to seek silverware

The Europa League is not only Southampton’s best chance of lifting silverware, but possibly also United’s.

Man City played on another level to that of their city rivals and displayed Red Devils’ weaknesses for all to see. As the season progresses, depending on how close United are to the title we could see Mourinho pay closer and closer attention to the Europa League.

Soccer - Ligue 1 - Saint Etienne v Nice -  Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

As for Saints, Claude Puel should absolutely throw everything into winning the competition. Realistically, Southampton are unlikely to be relegated, nor will they challenge for a Champions League berth.

The south coast side are a comparable to Sevilla – clubs with brilliant recruitment records, who routinely have their best players poached. Despite this, the Andalusian outfit have a remarkable record of consistent success in the Europa League, winning it three-consecutive times, giving the club a pathway to the riches of the Champions League.

If Saints have any sort of upwards ambition, Puel needs to invest resources into the tournament and give fans European nights to remember. Coral have Saints a generous 22/1 to lift the Europa League.

Southampton v Espanyol - Pre-Season Friendly - St Mary's Stadium

However, even if they don’t go all the way, there are still benefits to be had. Liverpool salvaged a below par season last term with a run in the Europa League and, are now reaping the rewards of letting a team gel in European competition this year, with the Reds getting off to a storming start under Jurgen Klopp.

Red Devils to complete trophy haul

If Mourinho’s men go all the way and left the Europa League, it will complete a trophy haul of every major piece of club silverware. His Old Trafford outfit are favourites to win the competition at 6/1.

Jose Mourinho

Former Real Madrid boss Jose is obsessed with records and collecting trophies and, with him keen to make an imprint at the club he so desired to be at, he should take the Europa League seriously.

The trophy is the only cup that has eluded the Manchester club, and Mourinho could write himself into the history books by completing the trophy cabinet.

Serial winners like Mourinho, usually set out win everything they can get their hands on and the Europa League should be no different, and taken seriously.

Jose Mourinho Photocall - Old Trafford

United’s squad is deep and can be rotated without any huge drop in quality. With this in mind, the Portuguese boss is keen to get his hands on more silverware after almost two years without it, so expect Mourinho to pour more resources into the tournament than his days at Chelsea.

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