Ex Man United midfielder explains why Europa League is key for Jose Mourinho
The Manchester United legend delivers his verdict on the Red Devils' top-four chances
Paul Ince has warned Jose Mourinho that the Europa League has become a vital competition for Manchester United this season.
The Red Devils booked their place in the Europa League knockout phase on Thursday night after a 2-0 win against Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk thanks to goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The 20-time English champions are well off the pace in the hunt for a top-four finish after three successive 1-1 stalemates in the Premier League with Arsenal, Everton and West Ham United.
The Red Devils are in sixth place in the table and nine points adrift of their bitter derby rivals Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League spot.
Writing in his Paddy Power column, Ince explained why Manchester United need to take Europe’s second-tier competition seriously in pursuit of a place in the Champions League next term.
“A top four spot seems to be slipping further and further away as teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal kick into another gear and United drop points,” Ince said.
“This makes the Europa League a crucial avenue to the Champions League next season. What is the Champions League without Manchester United in it? They have to be in it. They have to be playing against the best teams with the best players. The fans want it, the players want it and the club want it.”
Manchester United finished in fifth place in the Premier League table and behind Manchester City under Louis van Gaal last term.