Jaap Stam believes it’s important that Manchester United secure European football ahead of Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge.
Champions League qualification is now virtually out of reach for the Reds, as we are five points behind Arsenal in fourth with just two fixtures left, while both the Gunners and Spurs have games in hand over us and play each other next Thursday (12 May).
United are currently sixth in the Premier League table, which would be enough for a Europa League spot, as would fifth.
The team in seventh qualifies for the Europa Conference League, a competition which only begun in 2021 and one we haven’t been involved in previously.
There has been an argument from some quarters that United would be better served not being involved in continental competition at all next season.
Arsenal have arguably benefited from only having one game a week this term, while Leicester and Chelsea won Premier League titles in back-to-back years without the distraction of midweek games.
But Stam sees Europa League or Conference League involvement as providing a great chance for his compatriot and the club to claim our first silverware since 2017.
“I think it’s good to have European football,” Jaap told club media earlier this week, ahead of the 3-0 win over Brentford.
“I think it’s always good to show yourself on a European platform and show what you can do and how you’re performing and if you’re making progress or not.
“At the end of the day, it’s always nice to win trophies. Your colleagues and a lot of people are asking me how long it will take for United to win trophies.
“It doesn’t need to be long and if you can take part in one, like a European cup, and if you can win one, then I still think you’ve done a great job for next season, if you can do that.”
The 2022/23 campaign will be unlike any other, in that there is a five-week hiatus in the middle of the club season to allow the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to be played.
That tournament’s presence is sure to disrupt the rhythm of teams across the continent, although it splits the group stages and knockout rounds of the European competitions and Stam feels the opportunity is there for United to build something.
“I think it’s good to be in there and to start playing these games and then create a feeling and get a rhythm as well for the players to do well in the league and also at a European level, so people around the world can see you’re coming and getting close to a certain level.
“You never know what will happen at the end of the season but I think if there are things to be won then I think you need to do it. You need to grab it.”