A few months ago, Manchester United did not look like top 4 contenders. It was not even clear whether they would qualify for the Europa league next season.
Their games were lackluster and their season not going well. Sure, they did have some incredible performances especially when playing against big clubs, but it was the so called ‘small teams’ that gave them headaches week after week, losing them tens of points in the process.
The Covid-19 pandemic then paused all footballing activities around the world for many weeks, and that seems to have rejuvenated the Red devils.
Upon return of English football a few weeks ago, the players looked like a whole new team. They went on a roll of massive and important wins. First they beat Sheffield United, which was also hoping for a top 6 finish 3-0.
Then a week later they beat Brighton & Hove Albion FC away by a similar margin. A few days later they hosted Bournemouth at Old Trafford and won 5-2.
They followed that with a 3-0 win away at Aston Villa. Nothing seemed likely to stop them, and now it looked like they were not only fighting for a Europa League spot, but even a Champions League finish.
It was a new Manchester United, and even bookmakers like BetMGM promotion adjusted their odds to match this new reality.
The next game was against Southampton and it was expected that this was the day they would finally overtake Leicester and Chelsea on the table rankings. However despite having the home advantage, an added time goal denied United all three points, leaving them to settle for a draw.
They did win their next game away at Crystal Palace, but then followed that up with 2 disappointing results.
First an FA cup loss against Chelsea – the first time Frank Lampard has outsmarted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season. And then a Premier League draw against Westham.
This left them with only one game against Leicester City. With both fighting for a top 4 finish, it was a must win. The Red Devils delivered and against all expectations finished the season at position 3.
With Premier League football over, all attention turns to the continental leagues. Machester United are very much still in contention for a Europa title, and they are in a good position to actually win it.
Just before football went on a break, United defeated Austrian side Linzer ASK (LASK) by a convincing 5 goals away.
On Wednesday LASK travels to Manchester United for the second leg. With United’s latest form, no one really thinks the Austrians stand a chance.
BetMGM has for instance given LASK a whooping 11.5 odds for a win. By comparison Manchester Untied is tipped 1.25 to carry the night.
With a progression to the quarter finals all but assured for United, it remains to be seen whether manager Solskjaer will pick his strongest team. He has quite the reputation of messing up the lineup once in a while, particularly when he believes he is meeting a weaker opponent.
This sometimes leaves them exposed and in danger of a loss or draw.
Let’s wait and see if this is the year Manchester United becomes twice lucky on the UEFA Europa League stage.