Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has claimed that the club’s participation in the Europa League is hurting their chances in the Premier League.
Failure to finish inside the Top 4 in the 2015/16 season had meant that Manchester United were resigned to playing the second-tier European competition in this campaign. However, playing Thursday night football has visibly taken its toll on United’s fortunes in the Premier League.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, star Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic admitted to the same, saying that having less time to recover is ‘killing’ him and Manchester United’s title ambitions.
He said: “We don’t have a lot of rest because these Thursdays are killing you, especially me. I am not used to playing Thursdays and now we have one day less to recover. We have to get back to work and play the new game on Sunday.”
Each of United’s Thursday night Europa League matches have been followed by Premier League games on a Sunday, leaving manager Jose Mourinho with little time to prepare for his domestic games. Post their latest assignment in Europe, where they beat Ukrainian outfit Zorya Luhansk 2-0 in Odessa, United only arrived back in Manchester in the early hours of Friday.
This has again threatened to hamper the preparations for their latest Premier League game, as a crunch game against Tottenham Hotspur beckons. And indeed, empirical evidence would suggest that Jose Mourinho’s side could be in for a tough outing on Sunday, even though they are playing at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s record so far post their previous five Group A Europa League matches make for a dismal reading, with the Red Devils losing twice, drawing a further two games and managing just a solitary win over Swansea City. Quite evidently, that has been a big contributing factor to United’s slow start to their league campaign.
Manchester United currently sit in seventh spot in the Premier League table with just 21 points from their opening 14 games. As Tottenham come visiting this weekend, Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his side can achieve parity in the post Europa League win-loss-draw record, with a win over Mauricio Pochettino’s team that would also cut the gap on their rivals to three points.