Manchester United Have Put All Their Eggs in Europa League Basket

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Jose Mourinho has certainly made his decision and ultimate goals clear now. Actions speak louder than words, and today’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal is a result that says a lot. Mourinho has prioritized winning the UEFA Europa League over finishing in the English Premier League top four at the end of the season.

That’s the preferred route back until UEFA Champions League for Mourinho and United, and on paper it most likely seems the easier path.

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United were victorious, by a score of 1-0 at Celta Vigo in the Europa semi-final away leg last Thursday night. They now face the La Liga club at home this Thursday night needing just a draw to advance to the final, which will be May 24th in Stockholm.

Ajax thrashed Lyon 4-1 in the first leg of the other semifinal, meaning it’s almost certain that the Dutch club, not the French side, will be going through to the final.

That’s a tough match-up, and it creates the possibility that putting all the eggs in the Europa League basket could end up backfire.

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That said, you can’t really argue against Mourinho making this decision right now. Even though the top four race is still open, with Liverpool only managing one point today, going all in for Europa still seems like the way to go, at least on paper.

The issue, seemingly, is more with the way that this decision was reached. Liverpool and Manchester City have failed the close the deal on a top four spot. Arsenal are probably having their worst ever season under Arsene Wenger. A top four spot has been there for the taking, but Mourinho and United seemed to voluntarily opt out; instead of playing until the end and being eliminated. It may be the smart way to go, but it still feels a bit wrong.

Only time will tell if this was ultimately the right way to go.

Of course, Mourinho maintains that his side played to win today, telling Sky Sports after the defeat:

“Like today, we try to play for a result. You cannot say that we didn’t try to win the game and that’s what we will try to do in the remaining three matches in the Premier League.”

“But, obviously, everything for Thursday.”

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Liverpool remain in third place, one ahead of fourth place Manchester City (who have a game in hand on Liverpool) and five ahead of Manchester United (who also have a game in hand on Liverpool).

In other words, the top four from race isn’t ultimately settled yet in the standings, but Mourinho decided it was for his team. Supporters of this idea can claim that the decision wasn’t actually made today, but last weekend, when United failed to take all three points against relegation fodder Swansea City.

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They do have a point- maybe the decision was indeed made for them; on that day.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington TimesNBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN

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