Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

This Can Be Just the Start for United

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

This Can Be Just the Start for United

Article excerpt

Wayne Rooney lifts the Europa League trophy FOR the supporters clad in United red, watching Ander Herrera dance to his own chant and Zlatan Ibrahimovic having his picture taken with a suggestive banner, Wednesday night brought to an end a nine year wait for a European trophy.

It's the same amount of time that elapsed between those European Cup triumphs in Barcelona and Moscow, but the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and the advent of smart phones means more has changed this time around.

As the players took selfies on the pitch and posted dressing room clips to Instagram, there was the palpable sense that this is the start. This squad wants more.

The majority have now won the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League, but ambitions now turn towards the game's largest prizes, starting with a return to the Champions League.

It's no surprise. This is a young squad and there is a sense that here is the beginning of another successful United team - the best since Ferguson's third great team reached three European finals in four years.

That crop - featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, a younger Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney - lifted club football's biggest trophy in 2008 and dominated the Premier League.

After victory in Moscow, Ferguson led his side back to the final the following year, only to come up against the Barcelona juggernaut. But there was no panic, no rush to change the squad too dramatically and overhaul it immediately.

Jose is now side capable the memories few campaigns Partly that was due to Glazernomics - this was the summer that Ronaldo was sold and Michael Owen arrived. But mainly, there was little need for wholesale change.

When United reached the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley, eight of the 2009 XI were again on the field for the kick-off against Barcelona.

And in Stockholm, Mourinho fielded five players that can be the nucleus of his own United team of the future.

He is now moulding a side capable of erasing the memories of the last few turbulent campaigns.

Antonio Valencia is celebrating eight years in Manchester, but his reinvention as one of the Premier League's best rightbacks was justly rewarded by the Players' Player of the Year and the captain's armband in the Friends Arena. …

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