It’s a major, huge game. One of the biggest United have had in recent seasons. Jose has gambled top four for the Europa League. Deep down, when I look at some of the risks he’s taken to get to the final, I wonder if it will all be worth it.
When Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge, he’d have been chasing both domestic and European glory – putting our strongest teams out and really going for it. You’ve got to hope it doesn’t come back and bite Mourinho.
If they win the Europa League, he’ll be a genius. Fair play to him. But, if they don’t, it’ll be a major issue – it’s unbelievably important that United get into the Champions League. The way Mourinho has dealt with the season so far, putting all his eggs in one basket, if he does miss out on the Europa, he will have a lot of questions to answer.
Fourth place was completely up for grabs, he’s had plenty of opportunities to catch up.
What will bring pressure to United is that they are the huge favourites compared to Ajax, they’re 10/11 while the Dutch side are 10/3. It’s a massive, huge game – one of the biggest United have had in recent seasons. Especially after the devastation in Manchester this week.
Ajax have nothing to lose, they’ll be well up for it. If I’m being honest, I was more worried about United facing Lyon in the final. That’s not to belittle Ajax, but they’ve just lost the Eredivisie with Feyenoord winning it for the first time in 18 years.
They’re impressive, but they’re still a very young team. United have experience – Paul Pogba is young but has played in a Champions League final. David De Gea, Wayne Rooney, and Michael Carrick – even if they aren’t in the starting XI – the experience they have and the advice they can give is amazing.
Mourinho will have had his game-plan in place for weeks. Whether that’s attacking or not, he will know exactly how he wants the game to pan out.
Memories of ’91
When we played Barcelona in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991, we were the underdogs – at the time, Barca were just massive, everyone expected them to sail through the final. They mentally thought they’d won the game before they even turned up to the pitch.
I couldn’t touch the ball for the first ten minutes, that’s how nervous I was – and I wasn’t a player that really felt nerves or pressure. But you could literally feel the pressure in the air, and Barcelona were feeling it a lot more than us. So we went out there and played.
As soon as we got the first goal, they realised just how difficult it was going to be. The celebrations after are something I will never forget for the rest of my life. There’s no feeling like it!
We got back to the hotel and, as soon as the drinks started flowing, it was carnage. Mick Hucknall (the Simply Red singer) was sat there with a huge bottle of champagne and a big cigar in his mouth, steaming. It was brilliant.
Players were breakdancing on the floor, spinning around on their backs.
We finished up about six in the morning – well, those of us that actually stopped partying.