As long as you’re not from the red half of Manchester, you probably enjoyed Manchester United losing to Danish minnows FC Midtjylland last week.
It all started well enough when Memphis Depay actually did something in a United shirt by scoring the opener, but it all went tits up when Pione Sisto and Paul Onuachu gave the Danish champions the advantage going into tonight’s second leg.
The pressure on Louis van Gaal increased massively after the result, but the beleagured Dutchman can redeem some pride by ensuring his side overturn the deficit and make it through to the last 16 (ooh, the excitement).
Here’s five ways Man United can save themselves:
First and foremost, United must win the game. Sounds easy enough, right?
Even a 1-0 win thanks to a deflection of Donald Love’s arse cheek will do, thanks to Depay’s away goal in the first leg.
Should they scrape it, van Gaal will at least be able to stick behind his stubborn personality and say ‘we got through, didn’t we?’ when the journalists grill him after the game.
It’s a long shot to want Man United to play like Barcelona did the other day, but when it comes down to it, European competition (be it a second rate one or not) is about getting through at all costs.
Make Midtjylland Look Like Minnows
Compared to United, the Superliga champions are a raindrop in the ocean.
With a budget of just £7m per season (that’s for wages AND transfers), it’s only competitions like the Europa League that give Midtjylland the chance to pit their wits against Man United.
We often see some total mismatches in the tournament (Napoli’s 5-0 demolition of Midtjylland in the group stages being one of them), and United should really do something similar tonight.
Should van Gaal set his side out to attack the Danes, it could end up a similar score line to the Napoli game and that would go a long way to saving his rapidly diminishing reputation.
If Man United concede, the tie becomes really dangerous.
Should Midtjylland find a way past Sergio Romero (can’t be too hard), the Danes have the advantage as they’ll have matched United’s away goal and could even go through by losing the game.
Louis van Gaal is again short of options at the back, with Guillermo Varela and Paddy McNair set to start as Chris Smalling struggles with a knock.
Daley Blind isn’t the best at left back, and Midtjylland will certainly fancy their chances of cancelling out Depay’s away goal.
Try Passing Forwards
It’s fair to say that despite United’s poor results this season, their main gripe has been the style of play.
Van Gaal’s ‘philosophy’ has left more people scratching their heads than entertained, due to the huge amount of sideways and backwards passing during his tenure.
Tonight is a chance to put on a show for the home crowd and try a more attacking style.
Anthony Martial is set to play in his preferred centre forward position, so his pace would suit any through balls from midfield should United try to create something.
Juan Mata is more than good enough to take this game by the scruff of the neck and create the chances his side need to overturn the tie, it’s just a case of whether United’s style allows him to do it.
Stop Pione Sisto
Should Midtjylland get anything from this match, 21-year-old winger Sisto will be central to it.
The highly rated Danish international scored a cracker in the first leg, dribbling past most of Man United’s defence, before beating Romero at his near post.
His pace and direct approach will cause problems for van Gaal’s patched up back line, and Blind will need to be at his best if he plays at left back.
Sisto has been linked with a move to one of Europe’s bigger clubs and will see the game at Old Trafford as a potential shop window to showcase his talents.