Exiting a competition is always a gutting experience for everybody associated with Manchester United, from the players and the staff to the supporters, yet there is no time for self-pity with a hugely important Premier League match to play this coming Easter Sunday.
The Champions League, or European Cup as it was formerly known, is an intrinsic part of this club’s history and, if we want to be part of it next season, playing on the biggest stages against the greatest clubs, in the finest stadiums, then the Reds must nail one of the still-contested places in the Premier League’s top four.
The race to finish third or fourth continues this weekend when United face Everton away. Travelling to a difficult ground like Goodison Park with anything short of 100 per cent positivity is clearly dangerous and the manager is already conveying that message to the squad. Now is not the time to dwell on defeat.
Of course, the players are devastated about the defeat to Barcelona and that was very much evident when they left the Nou Camp.
Football can be cruel: it gives you hope, and then it throws you back down to earth. That’s what happened in Catalonia as United attempted to channel the spirit of 1999 (and 2019, for that matter) by upsetting the odds on the continent.