Roma star Gianluca Mancini has fired a word of warning to the likes of West Ham about the Europa Conference League.
The Hammers could have leapfrogged Man United into sixth – and a Europa League spot – with victory over Brighton on the final day after the Red Devils lost to Palace.
But West Ham fell short and threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 and end up seventh.
UEFA’s third tier competition has been compared to the Intertoto Cup – the last trophy West Ham won – and has been the subject of much mocking by English fans.
There is no hiding the fact the Europa Conference League is designed for the minnows of European football.
And, particularly in the group stages, the standard of teams will not be what West Ham faced on the Europa League adventure they enjoyed so much last season.
Roma played Feyenoord in the inaugural Conference League final last night.
And ahead of that game, Roma star Gianluca Mancini fired a word of warning to the likes of West Ham about the Europa Conference League.
Mancini warned the likes of West Ham that – contrary to widespread opinion – the competition is no joke.
And he says he should know because that’s exactly what he and his Roma teammates thought it was before their run to the final.
“Since the start of the season, to be honest, our target was to reach the final, of course, it’s not as easy to make it,” the Italy defender admitted (Football Italia).
“We thought the group stage was easy, we thought it was the ‘cup of jokes’, but after that heavy defeat against Bodo/Glimt we’ve faced every match to reach the final. We have one last game remaining to accomplish something unique.
“It’s the most important game of my career, I’ve played a Coppa Italia final, but in Europe, it’s different. It’s more difficult to get where we are.”
For West Ham, any form of European qualification is a positive. Yes the Conference League may not be as glamarous as the Europa or of course the Champions League, but it will still give fans a European tour.
And of course winning the competition is rewarded with automatic qualification for the Europa League.
West Ham duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal will have a special incentive to make next year’s final with West Ham as it is being held at thier former club Slavia Prague’s stadium.
But as Mancini warns, getting there will be no cake walk.