Darren Bent’s headed equaliser for Fulham sunk Manchester United’s season to new, submarine-dwelling depths, as David Moyes’ side now face the prospect of overcoming a nine-point deficit to Liverpool in fourth.
However, rather than becoming obsessed with overhauling their arch rivals to ensure Champions League football remains at Old Trafford, the Red Devils are better off trying to emulate Liverpool’s most famous European triumph in 2004/05.
Man United are currently labelled as big outsiders to win this year’s competition at 16/1, but by accepting their Premier League season is a write-off, this may end up proving an inspired punt.
When Rafa Benitez masterminded his crowning glory as Anfield impresario, he did so with a team whose league form was patchier than a sixth-former’s stubble.
Rafa’s Reds of 2005, with Igor Biscan and Djimi Traore in tow, had actually accrued a point less than United had after the current 25-game mark in the Premier League.
This paradigm can also be applied to Chelsea’s glorious cohort of 2011/12.
Chelsea had been banging relentlessly, but infuriatingly on the door of Europe’s top prize ever since the dawn of the Roman Abramovich era.
However, it transpired to be during their season of utmost domestic turmoil that the Blues finally shook off their learner badges, when finishing sixth under Roberto Di Matteo.
Chelsea, in comparison to present-day United, had only posted two more points by the time 25 Premier League games had elapsed.
But those scoffing at this theory ought to consider that United’s passage to the quarter finals is virtually assured already with two legs against Olympiakos an infinitely swervable object.
The Greeks were possibly the weakest team in the competition even before they lost their best player and top scorer Kostas Mitroglou to Fulham.
Imagine the scenario United fans; your team wins the Champions League and fourth-placed Liverpool are reduced to Europa League duties.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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