5 Reasons United and City Should Try to Win Europa League

Tony MabertContributor IDecember 8, 2011

5 Reasons United and City Should Try to Win Europa League

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    The world is not ending. The skies are not falling. It is not Armageddon. But try telling that to football fans in Manchester.  

    Both Manchester United and Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League in their final group matches.

    Worse still, in the eyes of many, is that they both finished third in their groups, subsequently qualifying for the knockout phase of the Europa League.

    The jibes of the Mancunian duo both playing on Thursday nights on channel Five have already begun in earnest.

    But the mark of true greatness is recovering from your setbacks and knowing how to turn a negative into a positive.

    The temptation may be to simply wave the white flag and all but throw their last 32 ties, but it is after all a trophy that is there to be won.

    With that in mind, here are some reasons why both teams should go out to win Europe's secondary competition this season. 

A Clean Sweep for Fergie

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    This just goes to show that even for a manager as successful and experienced as Alex Ferguson, who turns 70 at the end of the month, you are never too old to tread new ground.

    The last time United were eliminated at the Champions League group stage six years ago they finished bottom of their group, thereby avoiding the perceived ignominy of dropping into what was then still the UEFA Cup.

    As such, Ferguson is presented with a unique opportunity. He is entering a competition he has never guided United through before, and this is his chance to win another competition and complete a clean sweep.

    He won the old European Cup Winner's Cup twice, once with Aberdeen and again with United, and has brought two more European Cups to Old Trafford. He has also won league titles and both domestic cup competitions in both England and Scotland, as well as the European Super Cup and Club World Cup.

    Should he win the Europa League, he can genuinely lay claim to winning every domestic and European trophy he has ever contested as a manager. 

It Is a Competition They May Never Be in Again

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    As mentioned before, United are very unlikely to be contesting the Europa League again in the near future, but neither are City.

    Despite their early exit, City remain the most upwardly mobile team in world football. Even if they do not end the season by winning the Premier League, it looks as though it would take a meltdown of epic proportions for them not the qualify automatically for next season's Champions League.

    They already have a squad which looks like it merely needs time together rather than another slew of expensive additions to turn them into true European heavyweights. The Europa League is unlikely to be on the cards for either Manchester clubs this time next year.

City Can Lay Down a Marker in Europe

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    Last season City ended a wait of more than three decades for a trophy when they won the FA Cup, beating United along the way. Just a few months later, after getting that monkey off their back, they are the form team of England.

    Something similar happened at Chelsea once Jose Mourinho arrived there. The Blues' first trophy under the ownership of Roman Abramovich was the Carling Cup, and the following year they were champions. 

    If City can do something similar on the European stage by winning the continent's secondary trophy, it could help City transfer that winning mentality into UEFA competition.

Game Time for Squad Members

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    When you can boast as much talent right throughout your squad as the two Manchester clubs can, it is difficult to keep everyone happy.

    Several star names have arrived at City pledging their commitment to the Sheikh Mansour 'project', only to leave when it is clear they are not going to be playing every week.

    As for United, his latest crop of kids were eliminated from the Carling Cup last week by Championship club Crystal Palace, so the Europa League could provide another opportunity for some of the more promising among them to get another run out in the first team.

    That is not to see that either side should field a side full of kids and castoffs in the latter stages of a major competition, but with the rigours of the season run-in on the home front and playing matches on Thursdays and Sundays, it would be useful to give some of the more important players a rest where possible. 

They Could Face Each Other in the Final

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    This one doesn't need much in the way of explanation. 

    If United and City manage to avoid each other and make their way to the final in on May 9, tickets won't come much hotter than those for the showpiece at the Stadionul National in Bucharest.

    It would also be an excellent advertisement for the Europa League as a competition, so often maligned as the poor relation to the Champions League, when in fact it is capable of delivering some great matches in its own right once the hard slog of the group stage is out of the way.

    If one Manchester club won the Europa League by beating their local rival in the final, then perhaps they won't view the trophy as such a booby prize after all.