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Does anybody want to reach the Europa League this season?

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MANCHESTER UNITED

Last Europa League campaign

United made a brief cameo in the 2011/12 competition, having been eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage. A 3-2 aggregate win over Ajax was promptly followed by a 5-3 defeat to eventual runners-up Athletic Bilbao.

Why they’ll want to be in it

Unlike Arsenal, United have had most of the season to get used to the idea of playing in the Europa League; they also need to maintain "presence" by being in continental competition, for the sake of ‘the brand’. Hey, those Japanese potato-based snack products aren’t going to shift themselves. David Moyes – if he’s still in the job – will be hoping victory in Europe can kickstart his tenure in the same way the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup win over Barcelona did for Fergie.
 
The Red Devils squad is also particularly large – designed for playing two games a week for most of the season. Not playing in Europe would probably leave them with a bevy on unhappy fringe players, and a fair bit of squad restructuring to do. Won’t somebody think of Ashley Young?

Why they won’t

The idea of money-spinning friendlies instead of competitive European action has already been mooted, with the club desperate to claw back as much as possible of the £20m they’ll miss out on for not making the Champions League. The Old Trafford outfit pocketed £2m for appearing in a friendly in Saudi Arabia in January 2008 – do that half a dozen times in each half of the season, and they’ll be making far more than they would by playing in the Europa.
 
United were beaten in both legs by Athletic Bilbao
 
If it’s a straight choice between being in the Champions or Europa League, the answer is obvious. Yet if the options are Europa League or nothing, most clubs would ultimately swallow their pride, pack their passport and make tracks for Maribor, Shakhter Karagandy, or Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. After all, for the likes of Everton and Tottenham, winning the competition could prove the best and easiest route to the top table.