Manchester United stand on brink of Europa League final – the key talking points

The Red Devils hold a 6-2 advantage after thrashing their Italian opponents in the semi-final first leg.
Manchester United stand on brink of Europa League final – the key talking points

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Manchester United are on the brink of reaching this month’s Europa League final.

Ahead of the semi-final second leg at Roma, the PA news agency has picked out some of the key talking points.

Solskjaer on verge of first final in charge

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side lost to Sevilla in last season's Europa League semi-finals
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost to Sevilla in last season’s Europa League semi-finals (PA Wire via DPA)

Last season United fell at the final four stage of the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Europa League, with another semi-final exit arriving in this term’s Carabao Cup. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to make it fifth time lucky after United overturned a 2-1 half-time deficit against Roma to run out 6-2 victors in last week’s Old Trafford first leg. It would take an almighty collapse to deny the 1999 treble hero his first final at the United helm.

How much will United rotate?

United became the first side since 1964 to win a European semi-final by six goals, but Solskjaer was quick to warn the tie was not over just yet. “Everyone says it’s done,” the Norwegian said. “It’s not because I’ve seen bigger upsets than this. Roma has been part of big upsets, they beat Barcelona not long ago after being 4-1 down.” Solskjaer says there might be a couple of changes in the Italian capital but the United boss will not risk Thursday getting off to a nervy start, especially as he can replace five players if things are going well.

United return from unplanned week off

Manchester United's Premier League match against Liverpool was called off on Sunday
Manchester United’s Premier League match against Liverpool was called off on Sunday (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Solskjaer made just two changes from the 6-2 win against Roma for Sunday’s Premier League clash against rivals Liverpool. Mason Greenwood replaced Edinson Cavani and Dean Henderson came in for David De Gea, but the selection was immaterial as the anti-Glazer fan demonstration saw the game postponed. Solskjaer called Sunday a “difficult day” after his side stood in the hotel as fans protested outside the Lowry and Old Trafford. Whether the unexpected extra break is a help or hindrance heading to Rome remains to be seen.

Mourinho’s shock Roma appointment

Roma sent ripples around the footballing world on Tuesday by announcing Jose Mourinho would be taking charge in the summer. The appointment came out of the blue and just 15 days after being sacked by Tottenham. The Giallorossi had announced several hours earlier that head coach Paulo Fonseca would be departing, with the outgoing Portuguese backing his compatriot to do a “great job” at the Stadio Olimpico. Fonseca says Mourinho’s impending arrival would not be a distraction but it is hardly ideal preparation for a European semi-final.

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