Phil Neville has said that his former club Manchester United cannot lose Wednesday’s Europa League final with Ajax, and that he hopes that the Manchester United players will be able to put a smile back on the faces of the Manchester people.
Jose Mourinho’s side will take on Ajax at the Friends Arena in Stockholm this evening with United favoured to pick up their second trophy of the season after defeating Southampton in the EFL Cup final back in February.
Neville said that the people of Manchester need this win against Ajax, after 22 people were killed and a further 59 people were injured in a bomb attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday. Neville said that it was vital that United won on Wednesday for reasons that extend far beyond football.
“United can’t lose, they can’t lose at all because the wave of emotion,” Neville told the BBC on Wednesday.
“The wave of emotion from around the world has changed. A lot of people may have wanted Manchester United to lose this game on Monday morning, but I’m sure come Tuesday morning that a lot of people in the world have changed their opinions.
“They would have changed their thoughts in terms of I think Manchester needs this win. I think the people of Manchester need this win.”
If Manchester United defeat Ajax in the final, they will automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League, a competition they had failed to qualify for after missing out on the top four places in the Premier League.
Nevile added that the game had a ‘life or death’ connotation surrounding it, in terms of United’s season, but that in light of Monday’s attacks, the game can almost feel irrelevant in some respects.
“The game on Wednesday you’re thinking ‘this is a massive game for Manchester United’, it’s almost life or death in their season, and then obviously with the events of Monday it actually feels like the game is not that important,” added Neville.
“From Sunday thinking this is make or break for Manchester United, make or break for Jose Mourinho, make or break for some of the players that are going be playing, it actually doesn’t mean anything really with the reality of what we saw on Monday night at that concert in Manchester.
“But you really hope for tonight that a 90-minute period that the players put on a show and put a smile back on the faces of not just people in Manchester, but on people around the world.”