March 24, 2019
The 6 March 2019 is a date that will most certainly go down in Manchester United history. It was a night that finally, after many dour years, saw the club stand up and demand to be recognised as a powerhouse in Europe once more. United had begun to be somewhat of a forgotten entity in the Champions League since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
The harsh reality is that United’s best return in Europe’s top competition was a sole quarter-final appearance in the 2013/14 season, where they were quite comfortably turned over by Bayern Munich. Aside from this, the club has had a round of 16
What is definitely promising though, is the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a much depleted United squad, ten absentees to be exact, travelled to Paris with all the odds stacked against them and pulled out a result that made the top tier of European football take note.
Many United fans will agree that it was a night reminiscent of previous European glories from famous teams, the comeback will have undoubtedly brought back memories of the 1999 Champions League semi-final and final comebacks for those old enough to remember, by a treble-winning side that had become known for their comebacks and never say die attitude, an attitude that this current United side under Solskjaer displayed in front of the world at the Parc des Princes.
Magical European nights started to almost become the norm under Ferguson as time went on, most notably between the 2007/08 and 2010/11 seasons when United incredibly reached three Champions League finals out of a possible four. Despite only winning one of those finals, it can’t be disputed that the club had many special nights along the way.
The truth is Manchester United are a European powerhouse and belong at the top table with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and others, competing in the latter stages of the competition year on year. In reality though, nothing is given on reputation alone and United will need to earn their right to sit at the top table in Europe once more.
The teams of the past number of seasons have simply not been good enough to achieve this, which is down to multiple poor decisions and to a certain extent a loss of identity within the club. No doubt questions surround the current squad and what their maximum potential truly is, but some much-needed investment in certain areas and an exciting crop of youngsters knocking on the door is sure to rectify this.
The hope among United fans around the globe is that, with results and performances majorly improving, a significant lift in the atmosphere surrounding the club and the sheer enthusiasm that Solskjaer has brought with him to the role of manager, Manchester United can become a European giant on the pitch once more and make famous nights like the one in Paris return.
Written by Jack Grady