Here are 10 things every Manchester United fan should know about, following the close of the Premier League season and ahead of the Europa League final in Stockholm…
1: SIXTH PLACE FOR UNITED
The 2016/17 Premier League season is over and United finished sixth, which was already confirmed ahead of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. The Reds earned 69 points and that is seven shy of a top four that consisted of champions Chelsea, runners-up Tottenham Hotspur, third-placed Manchester City and Liverpool. Arsenal missed out on the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
2: JOSE’S JUNIORS BROKE RECORDS
Mourinho named United’s youngest starting XI in Premier League history, with the average age of the team standing at 22 years and 284 days. The manager handed senior debuts to left-back Demetri Mitchell, goalscorer Josh Harrop and substitute Angel Gomes, plus first-ever starts to Joel Pereira and Scott McTominay. In total, there were 12 Academy graduates in the matchday squad.
3: 100 PREMIER LEAGUE SCORERS
Harrop joined a select band of homegrown products to score on their league debut, with Marcus Rashford and James Wilson having achieved the feat recently, but he also became United’s 100th different scorer in the Premier League. “It’s a dream come true,” the youngster told MUTV.
4: YOUNGEST PLAYER SINCE EDWARDS
Our 16-year-old Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player of the Year, Gomes, became the club’s youngest player since the iconic Duncan Edwards with his welcome cameo appearance on Sunday. The cousin of former Reds winger Nani also became the first 2000-born player to appear in the Premier League.
5: KEY PLAYERS WERE RESTED
Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Rashford and more were all omitted from the team with the Europa League final in mind. Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney did feature, but the manager ensured none of them played full matches against the Eagles. Stockholm is clearly the priority now.
6: SIR ALEX SUPPORTS WENGER
Sir Alex Ferguson backed former managerial rival Arsene Wenger against criticism he is facing for finishing fifth this season. Speaking to Sky Sports, our former boss said: “It’s quite easy to say ‘Get rid of him’, but who do you get? Who do you get in to keep that club the way they are for the next 20 years? I really feel sorry for him because I think he’s shown outstanding qualities.”
7: EDWIN: I’M NO NEUTRAL
Van der Sar still holds United close to his heart, but the current chief executive of Ajax will only support one club this week. “I would rather have had them in the semi-final,” he was quoted. “But it didn’t happen and we have to face them in Stockholm. It is fantastic – but it is only fantastic if we win the cup.”
8: AJAX TURNED DOWN A FRIENDLY
Peter Bosz, manager of the Amsterdam club, rejected the opportunity to play a friendly match at the weekend to maintain rhythm, saying: “We have already played some 56 official matches this season and that’s enough. You don’t need those after a busy season. We think training is preparation enough.”
9: PEREIRA’S MESSAGE OF THANKS
Andreas, who was in the stands at Old Trafford on Sunday, used his Instagram account to thank relegated Spanish club Granada following the completion of his loan spell. “I want to thank he club for everything they did for me, I want to thank my team-mates for fighting together until the end and also thank the fans who supported me this season. I’m sure Granada will be back stronger.”
10: FAREWELL TO TWO GREATS
Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso both retired from football at the weekend and everybody at Manchester United would like to wish them both well for the future. They may have been opponents on the pitch, yet both deserve respect as fierce competitors and genuine greats of the modern era.