Manchester United Can Turn Attention Fully Toward Champions League Triumph

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Manchester United Can Turn Attention Fully Toward Champions League Triumph
Jon Super/Associated Press

With a Champions League clash against Greek outfit Olympiacos less than a week away, Manchester United need to turn their attention fully toward Europe's elite club competition.

There won't be a single United fan out there who can defend the season that the English champions have had on a domestic level.

With the side already out of both English cups and a top-four finish now seeming completely out of reach, the Red Devils' last remaining hope to salvage a disastrous season comes in the form of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League.

On paper the champions look far from able to compete with more than half the sides currently left in the competition.

A shoddy defensive unit coupled with an inconsistent midfield spells for disaster in a tournament which calls for prime quality like the UCL.

That said, with a string of decent performances elevating David Moyes' men to the No.1 spot in the group stages, the club has been rewarded with what is arguably the easiest clash of the last 16, against the relative "minnows" from Olympia.

EuroFootball/Getty Images
Olympiacos currently sit top of the Greek Superleague with a record of 23-2-0

By using this "easy" pairing of fixtures as a springboard, it could be possible for United to mount a miraculous outside surge for the crown—thus securing themselves a spot in the tournament for next season. 

The more level-minded football fan will be questioning this reporter's sanity at this point and wondering if he has any knowledge of the game at all. I know I would be.

While anyone with one iota of sense could point out that the current United team is quite possibly one of the weakest outfits in the last 30 years (at least regarding form and performances), English sides have, in the past, demonstrated that domestic form isn't always carried over onto the continent.

Both Liverpool in 2005 (who finished fifth) and Chelsea in 2012 (finishing the EPL season sixth) have shown the world that it is possible to have an atrocious league campaign and still go on to clinch European gold.

Steve Bardens/Getty Images
The Blues and The Reds pulled it off; but what about the Red Devils?

What United have in hand over even those sides is the fact that their English season is effectively over already.

In both of those previously mentioned circumstances, the teams involved had to spread their workload across both the EPL (as they battled for fourth) and the Champions League itself.

Perhaps as a blessing in disguise, Manchester United are basically already out of the running for an automatic qualifying spot. Thus, their attention can be turned 100 percent toward the European Cup.

At the end of the day, what difference does it make whether you end up finishing seventh or 10th? Both positions tend to garner no European places, and the prize money differential will be little to nothing in the eyes of a club the size of United.

Let's also not forget that this is the exact same United side that ran away with the EPL last season—plus Chelsea's twice player of the season Juan Mata and a spry young talent named Adnan Januzaj.

In theory, the team at David Moyes' disposal (if completely gelling and playing on their very top form) could outdo the side that won last year's league campaign with such relative ease.

Do Manchester United have a chance to win the UCL? Yes.

Is it a very good one? Heck no—but with all concentration now being focused on the Champions League (a liberty that no other team in the competition is afforded) who knows what Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie can pull out of their hats.

 

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