The prospect of playing Europa League football seemed depressing heading into the final Champions League group game.

After a group stage campaign which promised so much, United are out of the competition.

The ‘prize’ for a third placed finish is a shot at the Europa League.

It is hard to be too enthusiastic, even now, but we are going to try and look at the positives.

(Photo by ANNEGRET HILSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

True level

United may be exactly where the team deserves to be, in the Europa League.

The team only scraped Champions League qualification in the first place, and ultimately proved too inconsistent to warrant a place in the knockout phase.

Probably in any other group United would have made it through, but good teams do not lose the way we did away to Istanbul Basaksehir.

Solskjaer’s United paid a heavy price for this lack of focus, and are now back in the Europa League.

This may be the true level of this inconsistent United team, which just is not good enough yet to mount a serious Champions League challenge.

The Europa League may give United a better, more realistic chance of winning a trophy.


Champions League chance

The winner of the Europa League gains automatic qualification to the Champions League.

This may prove a useful avenue to United in the second half of the season.

The Premier League is unpredictable and while United have the capability to finish in the top four or even mount a title challenge, one bad month could cost everything.

Having an extra chance of Champions League qualification for next season is something we could be thankful for by May.

Accrington Stanley v Manchester United U21 - EFL Trophy
(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Player development

This is probably the biggest plus from United’s elimination. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will rotate the team.

Potentially this could lead to more chances for players who are on the cusp of the team like Axel Tuanzebe, Dan James, and Dean Henderson.

A more exciting prospect is giving new signings Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo an opportunity.

United have a number of talented youngsters who can be promoted from the under-23s too, like Ethan Galbraith or Anthony Elanga.

Key players can be rested for the Premier League games. Hopefully with a favourable draw, United can strike a good balance and give game time to those who could really benefit from it.

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