Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is never short of excuses when his team loses or when his title rivals win.
This entire campaign the Portuguese manager has been claiming that Liverpool’s success has much to do with the fact that they are not in Europe.
Last season the Reds finished seventh and failed to make it to the Europa League, while their title rivals, namely Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, all qualified for the Champions League.
United have radically gone off the boil, the Gunners have fallen out of the race since last month, and Chelsea and City are trailing Liverpool.
Mourinho’s argument that Liverpool’s Premier League title quest has been aided by their absence from Europe altogether does have weight. Brendan Rodgers’ side have been able to concentrate initially on finishing in the top four and now on the title. Given the stature of the likes of Chelsea, City, United and Arsenal, they all had the pressure of achieving Champions League success, which has played a role on their respect domestic campaigns.
Perhaps David de Gea needs to learn a lesson from this. The 23-year-old United goalkeeper has said that he wants the Red Devils to finish in a Europa League position.
‘There are still plenty of important games to play’, he told the club’s official website. ‘We are Manchester United and it's our duty to win every game we take part in.
‘That's what we'll try to do now because we want to finish as high as we can in the league, ensure we're playing in a European competition next season and show we are still around and that we will never give in’.
Kudos to De Gea for maintaining sportsmanship, but perhaps the Spaniard should hope that other teams pip them to the Europa League spot.
Next season will be massive for United. The 2013-14 campaign has been a write-off, but 2014-15 will have to be a success: no two ways about it. The squad will be reinforced and manager David Moyes will have to cultivate a big-club mentality.
The Europa League is only going to be a hassle in United’s quest to reclaim the crown. It is not a competition that big teams actually want to play in and will not make much money for United. Even if they do go and win it, fans will talk about their exploits in the Champions League and not in the Europa League. Just take Chelsea for example: they won the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League last year, but we all know which trophy Roman Abramovich cherishes more.
Yet, it could also provide United with a sense of European adventure. If Moyes takes it one game at a time and rotates his squad properly, then the Europa League could well become something to relish.
As long as United do not get carried away with winning the Europa League and focus on reclaiming the Premier League trophy, then playing in the second-tier European competition could prove to be a joyful adventure.