Paul Scholes has suggested that Manchester United are favourites to win the Europa League, as he claims his former club are ‘much better’ than Arsenal and Tottenham.
Following their superb 4-0 win in the first-leg against Real Sociedad, United breezed into the last-16 of the competition following an unremarkable 0-0 draw at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.
That stalemate saw 18-year-old Amad Diallo make his first Old Trafford appearance, while 17-year-old Shola Shoretire became the club’s youngest ever player in European competition, the academy star having already made a brief cameo in the Premier League win over Newcastle United at the weekend.
The game could have been more interesting had Mikel Oyarzabal not squandered an early penalty for the visitors, yet ulimately there was little to write home about, with Axel Tuanzebe having a first United goal ruled out for a foul by Victor Lindelof.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side currently also still going strong in the FA Cup, there is a real chance of ending the season with some silverware after recent semi-final disappointments, with Scholes insisting that his former club just need to get to that next level in order to win trophies.
“It hurts him. Four semi-finals for him which isn’t great because you need to go to that level now.” Scholes told BT Sport.
“You’ve seen them do well to get to second in the league, then fall away. They went top then unfortunately they went on a sticky run and fell away.
“They have got to find that extra quality, big players in big games. If Man Utd want to go to the next level, win titles, win cups – these players need to step up.”
“There’s no doubt [Bruno Fernandes] is a great player, great quality, he has to lead this team to trophies. He can’t do it by himself.
“There’s a nucleus at the club that is good enough to nearly win something. They’ve haven’t improved yet to win something, they have to do that.”
The Red Devils’ last piece of silverware was their 2017 Europa League triumph under then manager Jose Mourinho, although this time they could well come up against the Portuguese, after his Tottenham also side coasted through to the next round.
Spurs had claimed a 4-1 away win in the first leg against Wolfsberger, before a comfortable 4-0 thrashing in the second leg ensured their safe passage to the next round.
As for their north London rivals, Arsenal, they left it late to secure a place in the last-16, coming from behind to win 3-2 against Benfica on the night, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting an 87th minute header to send his side through.
With all three teams – alongside Scottish league leaders Rangers – awaiting Fridays’ draw, Scholes believes that it is United who are best placed to lift the trophy.
“Man United can [win the Europa], not sure about the other [British] teams. Man Utd have the best squad in the competition. This is a great chance for United to win something.
“They (the other British clubs) think they are in a good chance, but Man United are much better than Arsenal and Tottenham. Italian football and Spanish football are nowhere near as good as it used to be.”