Chelsea's Europa League hopes crushed by Man Utd's FA Cup achievement

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Manchester United's exhilarating 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup final has sent ripples through the Premier League, with Chelsea bearing the brunt of the consequences. The Red Devils' triumph at the iconic Wembley Stadium not only secured their place in the Europa League but also relegated the Blues to the UEFA Conference League for the 2024/25 season, a bitter pill to swallow for the London club.

Chelsea's sixth-place finish in the Premier League had initially positioned them for a coveted Europa League spot, but their hopes were contingent on a City win in the FA Cup final. However, United's unexpected success, thanks to the heroics of rising stars Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, has left the Blues reeling. The club now faces the daunting prospect of navigating a two-legged play-off in August to reach the Conference League group stages, a competition they have never graced before.

The setback comes at a tumultuous time for Chelsea, who recently bid farewell to manager Mauricio Pochettino following a comprehensive season review. In a twist of fate, Pochettino has now emerged as a potential candidate to replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, with whispers suggesting the Argentinian tactician is open to discussing the role should United decide to make a change at the helm.

Chelsea's disappointment is further compounded by the fact that they had hit a rich vein of form, winning five of their last five league games, propelling them from the depths of 10th to the relative heights of 6th in the table. However, costly draws against Sheffield United and Burnley, where precious points were squandered in the dying moments, have come back to haunt them like a recurring nightmare.

The club is now in the process of appointing a new manager, with the aim of swiftly moving forward with summer transfer plans and preparations for their European campaign, albeit in a competition they had not envisioned.

The repercussions of United's FA Cup victory extend beyond the confines of Stamford Bridge, with Newcastle United also feeling the sting of missing out on European football altogether. The Magpies, who finished seventh and ahead of United on goal difference, were banking on a City win to secure a Conference League spot, but their hopes have been dashed like a ship on the rocks.

For Manchester United, the FA Cup triumph provides a glimmer of hope in an otherwise turbulent season. Despite languishing in eighth place in the Premier League, they have now secured a place in the Europa League group stages, a lifeline for a club desperate to restore its former glory.

However, the victory has been overshadowed by speculation surrounding manager Erik ten Hag's future, with reports suggesting he could face the axe regardless of the result, a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

As the dust settles on a dramatic season, the 2024/25 campaign promises to be an intriguing one, with the Champions League introducing a new 'Swiss-style' opening stage featuring 36 teams, a tantalising prospect for football aficionados. Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Aston Villa will carry the torch for the Premier League in Europe's elite competition, while Tottenham and Manchester United will fly the flag in the Europa League, eager to make their mark on the continental stage.

For Chelsea, the focus now shifts to appointing a new manager and rebuilding for the challenges that lie ahead. The Conference League may not have been the European stage they had envisioned, but it presents an opportunity to regroup, reassess, and lay the foundations for future success.

The road ahead may be rocky, but with the right leadership and a determined squad, they will be eager to prove that setbacks are merely stepping stones to future glory.