Opinion: United primed for a pivotal period

Thursday 16 March 2023 12:00

The next few days could go a long way to defining just how good this season will prove to be for Manchester United.

Erik ten Hag's side have already ended the club's long wait for a trophy, by defeating Newcastle United at Wembley to lift the 2023 Carabao Cup in February.

Now, as we look ahead to the second leg of our Europa League last-16 tie away to Real Betis, the Reds still remain active in three competitions.

As well as sitting third in the Premier League, United carry a healthy 4-1 advantage into this evening's encounter at the Benito Villamarin Stadium (17:45 GMT kick-off) and also face an Emirates FA Cup quarter-final clash at home to Fulham on Sunday.

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Real Betis (A) Video

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Real Betis (A)

Erik looks ahead to this evening's second leg and insists our current injuries open the door for others to step up...

Few people could have foreseen the speed at which the upturn in fortunes at the club has occurred under the Dutchman's tutelage.

By the end of the next four days, Ten Hag’s side could have taken huge strides towards two further trophies. On the flip side, our hopes of success in each competition could have been dashed.

Such is the knife-edge nature of cup football. But weeks such as this are a well-trodden path in United's history, and are the sort of period we have been desperate to return to.

We experienced a similar scenario in February, with the aforementioned Carabao Cup success being preceded by a crucial clash with Barcelona in the previous stage of the Europa League.

United passed this test with flying colours, defeating the La Liga leaders 2-1 at Old Trafford to progress to the last 16, following the thrilling 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Nou Camp a week earlier.

Four days after eliminating the Catalan giants from the competition, the Reds travelled to Wembley and defeated a buoyant Newcastle side 2-0, ending our trophy drought in style.

Watch Ten Hag and Martinez's press conference Video

Watch Ten Hag and Martinez's press conference

Press conference | Erik ten Hag and Lisandro Martinez field reporters' questions before Real Betis v United...

If the Reds maintain the advantage over Betis on Thursday and follow it up with a triumph over Fulham at Old Trafford on Sunday, Ten Hag will be looking at a Europa League quarter-final and another trip to Wembley, for the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Back-to-back clashes against Betis and Fulham may not appear as glamorous to the neutral as United v Barcelona and a Carabao Cup final, but the next four days could be equally as vital to the Reds’ chances of success this term.

What’s for sure, though, is that Erik will have his side primed to continue our fight on all fronts, as the business end of the season starts to come into view.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.