United stars 'can't take Manchester victims out of our minds'

The Portuguese manager made sure that it was known that the reason for United's downturn in form in the final few games of the season when they were well in with a top 4 shout was due to their chances of qualification in the Europa League.

"Football, for 90 minutes, can bring a smile back to the faces of the people of Manchester", Neville said.

"I haven't seen the Ajax that I am used to", Ajax coach Peter Bosz said. "But there is a shadow hanging over this final".

United's scheduled news conference later in the day at the Friends Arena in Stockholm was cancelled.

Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured in a suicide bomb attack that targeted a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena on Monday.

"We're all very sad about the tragic events", he said.

President Aleksander Ceferin offered his condolences, adding: "I am deeply saddened by the terrible terrorist attack in Manchester last night".

"Success tonight is nothing compared to the pain and suffering back home", Woodward told MUTV.

"Our thoughts are with the victims at this terribly hard time".

United's players will wear black armbands and a pre-match ceremony has been truncated.

Manchester residents hold a vigil Tuesday for victims of Mondays' horrific terrorist attack there.

While thoughts of what happened in Manchester will never be far away, the game itself is not short of significance.

The much awaited Europa Cup final match comes up this evening with former champions of European football, Manchester United ready to put in all as the only hope of playing in the Europe elite competition, UEFA Champions League with Ajax as the stumbling block to that dream. The UEFA statement added "there is now no specific intelligence which might suggest that any of the UEFA Europa League Final activities in Stockholm may be the target of attacks.' London's metropolitan police said that extra armed officers would be deployed for the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley and the English Premiership rugby union final between Exeter and Wasps at Twickenham".

The game was billed as a clash between the pragmatism of Mourinho's United against the swagger and youthful exuberance of an Ajax side featuring six players aged 21 or under and in the club's first European final in 21 years.

Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling trained with United yesterday after injury, who will be without the suspended Eric Bailly and long-term injury absentees Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw.

Ajax, on the other hand, has less at stake - their second-place finish in the Dutch Eredivisie already guaranteeing them a Champions League spot next season.

  • Julie Sanders