Jose Mourinho would have wanted UEFA Champions League football when he took over Manchester United, but well, it didn't turn out that way. The decorated Portuguese football manager will have to do with UEFA Europa League football for the rest of the season. Title prospects? Well, it remains to be seen.
The Europa League is for long considered as a relatively easier competition than the Champions League. However, over the years, we have witnessed top teams making the European tournament as competitive as the Champions League.
Liverpool defeated Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals last season, but this time, they will be hoping to reach further in the competition. Mourinho's army will take on Dutch giants Feyenoord in their opening Europa League 2016-17 match on Thursday at the Feijenoord Stadion in Rotterdam.
The big news is United skipper Wayne Rooney is not a part of the 20-man squad which travelled to Netherlands. The reason, according to Mourinho, is to give the England forward a much-needed rest. "Wayne has played every game since the start of the season," said Mourinho ahead of the match.
"He has also played 90 minutes for England and he played 90 minutes last weekend and I want him to be fresh for the next match. In the position he plays, I have lots of solutions," he added.
Antonio Valencia, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw, who featured in the Manchester derby against Manchester City in the Premier League last week, also have not made it to the travelling squad.
Feyenoord, meanwhile, who have former Liverpool star forward Dirk Kuyt at their disposal, is relishing the prospect of meeting the Premier League side once again. "I feel good. I feel ready for Manchester United. Fifteen points from five games [in the Dutch Eredivisie] and now this cracker. Let it be a beautiful night," Dirk Kuyt was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Feyenoord vs Manchester United is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 p.m. IST [Thursday] (6 p.m. BST, 1 p.m. EST) on Sept. 15.
How to watch
India: TV: Ten 2. Live streaming: Ten Sports live.
UK: TV: BT Sport 3. Live streaming: BT Sport live.
Netherlands: TV: Fox Sports 5.