Ex-United and Ajax star Arnold Muhren spoke exclusively to ManUtd.com and United Review ahead of the Europa League tie between the famous clubs..
After years of playing in the Champions League and not meeting, now the teams play in the Europe League…
It was a big blow that United didn’t go through in the Champions League, and it was the same for Ajax because Lyon beat [Dinamo] Zagreb 7-1 and took the knockout round place. This is a game that would have been fitting for the Champions League.
How have Ajax been performing?
Everyone expected them to do well this season because they bought one or two good players, but unfortunately there are a lot of players injured at the moment. I think that only at the beginning of the season was coach [Frank] de Boer able to play with his strongest side. And the injuries have been to good players like [Gregory] van der Wiel, the right full-back, and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, a striker from Iceland who did very well at AZ Alkmaar. But I understand that United have been unlucky as well with [Nemanja] Vidic, Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley missing for a long time. To still be competing for the league title with Manchester City despite all the injuries says a lot, I think.
What have you made of United this season?
City have spent so much money, and yet still United are up there with them despite not spending very much money comparatively – only on Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea. The goalkeeper has come in from Spain and will take time to adapt to playing in England where the demands on him physically are more than they were in La Liga. He’s a good goalkeeper, very young and United will give him the chance to get used to playing in the English league.
Are you looking forward to the two games between United and Ajax?
I’ll be there because Ajax have invited me as their guest of honour, both at the home game in Amsterdam and the away match in Manchester. So I’ll be in Manchester for two days, watching first City against Porto and then United against Ajax.