Opinion: Why it's still all to play for at United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is adamant Manchester United’s Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain must not be considered as season defining, and that is clearly the message to follow.
Thoughts quickly turn to domestic matters and matches do not come much bigger than an Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea on Monday, with no possible replay remember, before Liverpool come to Old Trafford in our next Premier League assignment a week on Sunday.
Chelsea’s 6-0 defeat to Manchester City may have prompted talk of a crisis at Stamford Bridge but, make no mistake, it’s not been the happiest of hunting grounds for United and that is why Ross Barkley’s late, late equaliser in the league earlier in the campaign was particularly galling.
After beating Arsenal on their home patch in the previous round of the FA Cup, the draw has not been kind to Ole and his team. But it is clear the opportunity is there for United to exact revenge for last season’s defeat in the final.
If we can knock Chelsea out, the path to Wembley glory will look much clearer – even if Manchester City remain in the competition.
City are challenging for honours on all four fronts and Chelsea - if they’re not licking wounds after the hiding at the Etihad Stadium - will get one chance to upset Pep Guardiola’s bid for a clean sweep when they meet in the Carabao Cup final.
On that same day, the biggest game on the calendar takes place with United meeting Liverpool.
It's not being disrespectful to say this is the match that will attract the biggest attention, despite the final at Wembley.
No United fan needs reminding of the importance of this fixture in any campaign but, with the Merseysiders pushing for the title, it is imperative Ole’s men throw a spanner into the works.
The last time Liverpool had a challenge for the Premier League trophy, we lost 3-0 in March 2014. And Steven Gerrard missed one of his three penalties on a difficult afternoon for David Moyes’s side.
There is the hope, and belief, this United team will make life considerably tougher for Jurgen Klopp’s charges and show there is plenty more still to play for this season.
No doubt some will view the reverse to PSG as a sign that the honeymoon period is over under Ole. Yet 11 games unbeaten undeniably was some run, and some extended spell, which has rekindled the belief around the place.
If it can be sustained domestically in the coming weeks, then any disappointment felt at Old Trafford after this first leg will soon fade.
The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.
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