It was a final showdown in this season’s Europa League earlier tonight, as Dutch side Ajax came up against England’s Manchester United to decide the winner of the second most elite club competition in Europe.
As the match saw the Red Devils emerge victorious 2-0 and bag their third trophy of the campaign after winning the Community Shield and the League Cup earlier on, here are 5 things we learned from the final:
1. UEFA Champions League Back At Old Trafford
Winning the Europa League had always been the number one priority for Mourinho and his staff this season, and the main reason behind it was the automatic qualification for the Champions League after doing so.
That aim came to life today, after they lifted the title and guaranteed much needed Champions League matches for United next season onwards. The last time the Red half of Manchester won a European trophy was in 2008, and the Red Devils have only featured twice in the tournament since the departure of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, meaning it was about time they got back to where their fans expect them to be.
2. Paul Pogba Back To His Best
The most expensive player in the world has faced criticism all season long for performances not matching up to his price tag and stats being way below expectations. However, the latter half of the year has seen a rise in maturity and good strong displays from the Frenchman, which was evident in his performance in the final today.
A wide range of accurate passing, ball tracking and winning abilities, pacey runs, and the opening goal was all part of the day’s play for Pogba, as he ends the season on a high, by silencing those who doubted him not so long ago.
3. Ajax Have A Team For The Future
Despite being beaten by one of the biggest names in football tonight, Ajax put up a fighting display on such massive occasion, and they did so with a squad of players still facing the early days of their career.
The side showed calmness, possession keeping abilities, pace and creativity at times throughout the 90 minutes, and after making the journey to the final with a squad full of youngsters, one can only predict and see them growing in the years to come with a lot of potential in their ranks.
Players like Dolberg, Traore, and Ziyech seem like they mean business in the sport, and keeping them might prove to be very handy for the Eredivisie club.
4. De Gea and Wayne Rooney On Their Way Out?
After neither of the two failed to make it into the starting line up of such a big final for the club, one can simply wonder what their situation of their future behind the scenes.
With Real Madrid being linked to Mourinho’s number one goalkeeper, and the side’s highest ever goal scorer, Wayne Rooney, rumoured to be on the verge of an Old Trafford exit, it might just be possible that the fans will not see them wearing the Red jersey ever again.
Rooney did manage to come on for the last 5 odd minutes of the match and lift the trophy while wearing the captain’s armband, which might be his last contribution to a side which he will leave as nothing but a legend.
5. Mourinho Gets What He Wants
If there is a manager in world football that fits the term ‘tactical genius’ and certified winner, there is none better than Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss has won all trophies he possibly could, and when United were being blamed for having a poor season, he reassured one and all about the target he had in mind.
The win today means that he has added yet another major club title to his name, and now, with Champions League assured for next year, he can boast about having a successful debut campaign at Old Trafford and chase big players like Griezmann and James Rodriguez this summer, and aim for higher and unmatched success.
Written by Vikram Gupta
An attacker with his words, and defends each of them with pride. A love for the game which goes hand in hand with his will to forever write. A graduate in the course of advertising and a hopeful to be author. Herrera for the win.