Manchester United’s crushing reality laid bare with drop to Europa League | Daniel Taylor

After a spend of £250m and a promise of better times, Louis van Gaal has meekly led United into European club football’s much-maligned competition

For Manchester United, it might be that the embarrassment really starts to sting their cheeks when the Europa League draw comes around on Monday. They are at least spared the possibility of a trip to Azerbaijan now Qarabag and FK Qabala are dropping out, but how about FC Krasnodar in southern Russia? Or some of the other teams, among them Belenenses, Slovan Liberec, FC Midtjylland and Viktoria Plzen, who might provide the opponents for a club where, in happier times, they peered down their noses at this competition in the way a Michelin-starred chef might regard a Pot Noodle appetiser?

“Thursday night, Channel 5,” the chant used to go. These days, the competition is shown elsewhere but, wherever the pundits turn up, it is fair to say Louis van Gaal is starting to feel persecuted by the people he calls “the legends”, none of whom seems to have a good word to say about him or his team right now. He should probably just be glad Roy Keane was not on television duty on Tuesday as United were dumped out of the Champions League by Wolfsburg. Instead, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand offered their biting analysis of the man who reputedly used to march around the dressing room at Bayern Munich, saying “I am like God! I never get ill and I am always right.”

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