With the 2016/17 season winding down to an end, mixed emotions come across the fans of Manchester United. Being one of the biggest clubs in the world comes with an immense amount of pressure and expectations. What was shaping out to be an accomplishing season, with the signings of notable players and winning a piece of silverware in the Community Shield, United fans had every right to believe the road back to the top was attainable.
As the season began, finding rhythm and chemistry was hard on new manager Jose Mourinho. Switching the starting XI week in and week out fluctuated in results, putting doubts in the minds of supporters. Draw after draw, goalless at that, it was hard to believe Manchester United were making it through multiple competitions with no reassurance of potentially winning any of them. Despite United being victorious in the EFL Cup, many had questioned their road to getting there. With sub-par performances as a team, the league campaign was looking a blur and the top four appearing further and further away.
With plenty of mid-season injuries affecting the squad in numbers and only a few weeks left of the Premier League, it became evident that Mourinho was riding purely on Europa to make it into the Champions League for next season. Benching key players and replacing them with selected youth for the EPL, the risk of going all in became greater with each passing game. Now completely having fallen out of any chance in the top four, United must wait three days after the league is finished to decide their fate of next season.
Nonetheless, winning trophies and making it to final stages of competitions is a great achievement. Although many seem to have a certain standard of high-quality football for the red half of Manchester, it must be said that times are different and things have changed. The fire that Sir Alex Ferguson had left behind has slowly faded, players who once were a major part of success have descended, and true competition has increased in the Premier League. There is no doubt work is needed to be done in order to retrace the path of a previous Manchester United team. It may take a couple more seasons of Europa League beneficial to achieve this, but with the heart and spirit of the Red Devils, there is always faith in becoming champions once again.