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The financial gap between Manchester United and Villarreal is astonishing.

Unai Emery’s men have a very tall task in Gdansk for the UEL Final.

Arsenal v Villareal CF - UEFA Europa League Semi Final: Leg Two Photo by Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

I’m gonna say something from the outset. I think footballer to footballer, manager to manager, we are good enough to win the Europa League Final. We have an experienced side and I think in the manager’s dugout we flat out have an advantage. We aren’t just sacrificial lambs being led to the slaughter here, we can win the UEL. I’ll also say that in the broader world of football, Villarreal is a rich, well off club. The vast majority of clubs in Europe can’s start multiple 20m+ forwards, we can.

But financially, our club has absolutely no business being here. It’s crazy enough that we beat Arsenal, whose budget dwarfs ours, whose definition of a COVID related spending cut was a 73m net spend....but Manchester United is a whole different animal. In fact, Man U spends like one of the oil state backed clubs. Check out these numbers on the semi finalists from both European competitions:

So Manchester City, owned by an oil state, has only outspent their cross town rivals by about 22m over the last five years. Manchester United has outspent us by 646.82 million euros. That’s insane. But wait, there’s more. Before the pandemic, in 2018-2019, Manchester United had revenues somewhere in the ballpark of 711m euros. Ours, as you can see here in this excellent report from RaulGuti on the site, was a record 116.2m, so they had over six times the amount of money coming in as we did.

In their history, Manchester United have bought thirty-one players who cost more than Villarreal’s record signing. twelve of them are still with the club. How on earth a club could spend all this money and be in the same final we are in I just cannot understand. United are a distant second in the Premier League, fair enough, but they are just not getting value for money if they ever ended up in Europa to begin with.

The hope

But that’s exactly where the hope lies. While having these absurd amounts of wealth does give clubs like United infinite do-overs when they mess up, it doesn’t actually guarantee that they have a whole slew of tremendous players. Make no mistake, if we win this final, United will mark the best team we’ve beaten all year (barring a win over Real Madrid or Sevilla in the weeks beforehand), but they are far more of a juggernaut financially than they are on the pitch. Without Foyth, probably without Samu, it’ll be a tall order, but this I think is a clear opportunity for a side built through shrewd intelligence and a strong academy to take on one of Europe’s financial elites and get a win. It’s important to me personally that we do in fact win. After the drama of the European Super League and seeing a Champions League semi-final contested between two oil state clubs, I, and I’m sure many other football fans, need to see a side who was built through financial responsibility win a major honor. We not only can win the Europa League, we need to.