It was quite the upset last Thursday as Manchester United lost away at Danish Champions Midtjylland in the 1st leg of their Europa League Round of 32 encounter. Although trailing 2-1 on aggregate you would still have to make Manchester United the slight favourites going into Tonight’s 2nd Leg but as we already know stranger things have happened at Old Trafford this season.
On Monday we were back to Louis Van Gaal being one game away from the sack as he prepared to lead his side into the F.A. Cup 5th Round tie away at Shrewsbury. They overcame that potential Cup banana skin with ease as United strolled past the League One outfit in a 3-0 win. The pressure is off Van Gaal again for now but defeat Tonight and we could be back to square one.
Then again this has been written by myself and countless others already this season but perhaps with the Top 4 and the subsequent route to the Champions League looking like a distant prospect then maybe the Europa League takes on extra importance and a fail to progress Tonight and with that the only realistic hope of Champions League Football next season could be the straw that finally breaks the camels back.
I’m in no way advocating for Van Gaal to be sacked or anything like that but you have to wonder for long he can continue to stay on shaky ground between the end of the season. I think it’s fair to say that he will be given a golden handshake at the end of this campaign if he hasn’t already departed before the end of the season. With Jose Mourinho lurking in the wings, it’s just a case of when it happens
As for matters on the pitch, United still have a sizeable injury list but that said they still managed to put out a relatively strong lineup on Monday. That was up against League One opposition and you have to feel that Midtjylland will especially as they have a lead to defend in this tie will put up a tougher fight.
Much was made before the first leg about the fact that United fans had to pay £71 to see their beloved team play, I doubt would have been too pleased at the sight of seeing the Danish Champions coming from behind to take a 2-1 advantage to Old Trafford.
I can see United scoring Tonight so the Danes are going to have to register a goal themselves to have any chance of progressing to the Round of 16. It may not be one of those memorable Champions League but you feel that the Old Trafford faithful will make this a difficult place to come too Tonight.
This could be a real pivotal game for United in terms of the rest of the season, if they lose this then their Champions League hopes are all but done. It’s not quite Midtjylland or Bust for Van Gaal but I don’t think he’ll want to see another defeat to see how close to the exit door he really is.
I’m going to go with United coming through the first leg scare to win through on the night and subsequently progress to the next round of the Europa League and Louis Van Gaal gets another stay of execution.