It was never envisaged that Man United will have to wait till May to secure Champions League qualification for next season following the appointment of Jose Mourinho and the signing of players like Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
They were among the strong favorites to win the Premier League and three consecutive wins at the beginning of the season had set them on the right track but after that United struggled to match their rivals and remain in the top four of the Premier League.
Spent several weeks in the sixth position, moved a place higher but dropped back after consecutive defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham and finally finished in the position they had spent the major parts of
their season, 24 points off the league winner Chelsea and seven points adrift Liverpool in the fourth place.
They had been unbeaten in the league since the loss to Chelsea in October before the consecutive defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham, but that unbeaten run had no positive effect on their title challenge as
they drew most of their matches during that period. United hold the record for most matches drawn in the top half of the table.
Winning the Community Shield and the League Cup is not really bad but their triumph in the Europa League speaks volume and was the defining moment of their season as it ensured their qualification for next season Champions League.
Jose Mourinho’s men put up an impressive performance and deserved won the trophy. Missing out on the Europe top competition – for the second consecutive season and third time in four years– would have
affected them in the transfer market and cost them a fortune.
Mourinho was right to have prioritised United’s participation in the Europa League after correctly sensing that top four finish is unlikely to be possible.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan won United their first Europa League trophy and the manner of Mourinho’s celebrations clearly showed he so much wanted the cup, at least if not for anything else, for a passage to the Champions League next season.