Sir Alex Ferguson comment to Unai Emery shows what he thinks of Europa League

Man Utd had Sir Alex Ferguson watching on in the stands as they lost to Villarreal - and his past comments to Unai Emery showed what he make...

Man Utd had Sir Alex Ferguson watching on in the stands as they lost to Villarreal - and his past comments to Unai Emery showed what he makes of the Europa League


When Manchester United flew Sir Alex Ferguson to Gdansk with the squad for the Europa League final, they no doubt envisioned lifting silverware in front of their legendary former manager.

Ferguson’s presence around the squad added to the build-up to a game considered as a watershed moment for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his side.

22 years on from Solskjaer’s crowning moment as a player, scoring the winning goal in the Champions League final in Barcelona, he was eyeing his breakthrough as a manager.

Instead of celebrating a major European trophy, however, the Red Devils suffered penalty shoot-out agony.

Ferguson was seen consoling his former goalkeeper, David de Gea, after he missed the decisive spot kick.

Sir Alex Ferguson was in Gdansk as Man Utd lost the Europa League final
Sir Alex Ferguson was in Gdansk as Man Utd lost the Europa League final 

But there is no hiding the fact it was a disappointing night for United - and an intriguing story surrounding Ferguson in the build-up gives an indication of what he must have thought.

Speaking before the game, victorious manager Unai Emery recalled an encounter he had with Ferguson at a conference in Valencia a few years ago.

He told Spanish site Marca: “At a managers meeting in Valencia I was defending the Europa League and Ferguson questioned me, 'but wouldn't you like to win the Champions League?’

“I said, 'yes, of course I'd like to, but the Europa League is a place where many teams, fans and players find important recognition.’

“And now United have spent many years playing in the Europa League, longing for it and trying multiple times to win it to get to the Champions League.”

Ferguson’s comment to Emery sums up his understandable view - that the Champions League is what it is all about.

Under the legendary Scot, it was hard to ever envision a scenario where United were playing in the Europa League.

Ferguson handed out medals as Unai Emery's side lifted the cup
Ferguson handed out medals as Unai Emery's side lifted the cup 

What went wrong for Man Utd in the Europa League final? Have your say in the comments section below.

Ferguson’s dismissal of Emery’s Europa League triumphs - of which there are many - gives an indication of what he really made of the second tier European competition during his time as a manager.

And United’s failure to win that trophy will no doubt have hurt Ferguson having himself been accustomed to challenging for, and winning, Champions League finals.

Emery, on the other hand, is quite comfortable with his record in the Europa League, which he has now won four times.

It's a competition that I feel comfortable and grateful to be in it," he added. "And since then, paradoxically, United have spent a few years in the Europa League and they want to win it.

“That's happening more; that's what makes this competition great. We want to compete for it and we feel proud to do that.”

As Emery noted before the game, it is a competition United now want to win.

But they have still failed to do so, and Ferguson’s feelings on its significance are unlikely to have changed.

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