Manchester United progressed to the Europa League final by the skin of their teeth. It wasn’t an easy path to the Stockholm showpiece but Jose Mourinho’s men now stand only a step away from forging history. With the Portuguese now risking Champions League qualification by putting all eggs in the Europa League basket, it’s simply a win-or-bust situation for the Red Devils now. But what could be the ramifications if the English side succumbs to a youthful Ajax side on 24th May? Lets find out what that nightmare may result into:
1. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SPOT GONE
With Manchester United turning its back on the Premier League for a route into Europe’s elite football competition, winning the Europa League is the only way for them to seal a coveted a Champions League spot. But if they lose to Ajax at the Friends Arena, that last hope will be gone too. The ignominy of missing out on the competition for the second season running would hurt the fans the most.
2. CLUB AND PLAYERS SET FOR A MASSIVE FINANCIAL LOSS
Failure to qualify for the Champions League would lead to massive financial fallouts for both the club and players. A defeat in Stockholm not only would shut doors on United’s last hope of making it into the competition, but will also cost them a potential £12mn windfall they could receive just for qualifying for the group stages.
Club’s kit sponsors Adidas will take out a chunk of their investment as the £75million per season contract with the sportswear giant stipulates a 30 percent cut – worth around £22.5million – if they fail to make the Champions League for two consecutive seasons. As for the players, they stand to lose out on an enormous £38mn in salaries and bonuses with those at the club earning over £20,000-a-week getting their salaries docked by 25% next season.
Rashford and Mkhitaryan star in @ManUtd’s journey to the #UELfinal. https://t.co/fMX8G7eqKM
3. SUMMER TRANSFER PLANS COULD GET SCUPPERED
Though Manchester United’s financial clout means they can still attract the top players, the inability to offer Champions League football could hit them hard this time around. There are rumours of Antoine Griezmann and James Rodriguez moving to Old Trafford in the summer but they could well opt out of a transfer to the north-west of England if the Red Devils fall short in Europa League final. In that case, Jose Mourinho would have to look for alternatives and his plans to re-establish the club as number one at both home and abroad would be dealt a severe blow.
Also Read: Are Manchester United most vulnerable after a midweek European match?
4. A FAILED SEASON
The Mancunians won a record 21st Community Shield and lifted the EFL Cup trophy for the fifth time this season but a final defeat in Stockholm would make them count for nothing. Failure to mount a serious title charge and inability to secure a Champions League spot would overshadow all those wins. The club will undoubtedly become a butt of jokes all throughout the summer and Manchester United’s stature as an elite European club would be under all sort of scrutiny.
5. JOSE MOURINHO’S POSITION BECOMES UNTENABLE
The Special One joined the club amidst a huge fanfare despite helming a disastrous title defence with Chelsea in the previous campaign and hopes were pinned on him to deliver big things. Mourinho spent around £150mn to bring in four players, including the world-record signing of Paul Pogba. Despite the backing given by the hierarchy to the outspoken manager, the fact that he only delivered a shield and a cup for all that investment would probably not go down well with them. If United fail to conquer the Europa League and fail to secure a Champions League spot, Mourinho’s decision to throw in the towel on Premier League could come back to haunt him.
Despite his reasons of a congested schedule and too many fatigued/injured players forcing him to abandon the league route, all those reasons would sound nothing but an excuse. A faction of supporters are already unhappy with his negative approach to the game which’s unlike United’s style over the years and failure in the final could lead to a sort of uprising. Many of those faithful may ask the hierarchy to treat him with the same yardstick as they did with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal and hence, could be asking for his head. It would be arguably the toughest summer in Jose Mourinho’s managerial career.