Wednesday, 17 February 2016

UNITED DROP INTO THE MUD-PITS


FC Midtjylland. Where in Europe are they?

If Manchester United set out this season to break expectations, they've certainly done that by finding a way to play at the 11,800 seater MCH Arena, at a club formed just three months before United completed an historic treble in May 1999.

The irony is that there is in fact no shame for this Manchester United team in the Europa league this season because that is indeed the level at which the club are at this point in time. Currently in fifth place in the league, United are set to make the group stages of the competition next season if they fail to make up the ground for the elite positions.

Indeed the Europa league now represents United's 'best' shot at a Champions League place next season. Even that remains a long shot by any stretch of the imagination considering the number of sides left in the competition that are arguably better placed than United to win it.

The Cup competitions however represent the remaining solace for Louis van Gaal in this troubled season. The trip to Denmark is quickly followed by a fifth round meeting with Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup on Monday, allowing for progression in both Cup competitions by next week.Indeed, by the time United return to premier league duty next week at home to Arsenal, they should have registered three Cup wins (twice in the Europa league) to give a semblance of confidence ahead of an important meeting with Arsene Wenger's high fliers.

Louis van Gaal would ideally want to rotate his squad over the three Cup games to allow for a freshness ahead of a return to league duty but the injury situation, particularly at the full back positions. It will though allow for the younger players an experience in European football, albeit at a very limited level.

The Superligaen club have won just the one game in their last five matches, although they also remain unbeaten in that period. However, a third place placing in the league behind Aalborg and FC Kobenhavn accounts for what has been an indifferent season so far. The Europa league run so far has lit up their season. Indeed, rubbing shoulders with one of Europe's most recognisable powers is testament to the strides they have made as a club over the last two decades since their formation.  

United remain a side that is vulnerable to the first half decent challenge they encounter. FC Midtjylland shouldn't be one of the sides that causes them too many problems.   

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