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Erik ten Hag will not be sacked by Manchester United before end of season

Mon, 04/22/2024 - 12:00
  • Dutchman safe until summer despite scare against Coventry
  • Bruno Fernandes calls on team to focus on rest of season

Erik ten Hag remains safe as Manchester United manager until the end of the season, with Sir Jim ­Ratcliffe having no intent to remove the Dutchman despite the increased pressure on him following Sunday’s alarming FA Cup win over Coventry.

United were in control at 3-0 until Mark Robins’s team staged a remarkable comeback, scoring three times in 29 minutes to force extra time. In the extra half an hour, Ellis Simms hit the crossbar and Victor Torp scored what appeared to be the winner, but his effort was ruled out for offside after the intervention of the VAR. United won 4-2 on penalties.

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How Sir Alex Ferguson became a fairy godfather for young managers | Simon Burnton

Mon, 04/22/2024 - 08:00

The 82-year-old’s impact on football goes far beyond his own success with the advice he gives to up-and-coming managers

At around this time in 2006, soon after Chelsea beat Manchester United at Stamford Bridge to secure a second successive league title, Sir Alex Ferguson’s phone rang. It was some bloke called Aidy Boothroyd, at the time just some gobby, upstart young coach who had somehow landed his Watford team in the Championship playoffs. “I phoned him up, asked for some advice and he gave me some pearls,” Boothroyd said later. “He lent me a couple of books and he’s always been at the end of the phone if I ever need any help. I think he does that for everybody.”

I remember being surprised by this at the time. Ferguson was 64, had already retired once, had won eight English league titles, was at the time the subject of savage and, it soon transpired, wildly misplaced criticism due to his side’s poor performance (they still finished second), and was just gearing up to win the league again in each of the next three years and five of the next seven. He had, in short, plenty on his plate already without being pestered for tips by fanboys. And yet there he was, lending books to Aidy Boothroyd. “He will always pick up the phone or phone you back if he can’t get to you the first time,” Boothroyd said the following year. “I’ve never known him not to call back.”

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Premier League and FA Cup: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Mon, 04/22/2024 - 07:58

Manchester United snatch chaos from jaws of serenity, Nicolas Jackson misfires and Liverpool stay in hunt

Jammy, jammy Man United. To be fair, they did find a new way to be hopeless. Instead of the usual mayhem, they were in total control for 70 minutes, barely letting Coventry have a shot. But then, somehow, they snatched chaos from the jaws of serenity. ITV, and all their teatime viewers, couldn’t believe their luck as a cakewalk turned into a classic. United threw away a 3-0 lead, and for a minute, right at the end of extra time, they were 4-3 down – only for the VAR to come to their rescue, after he had failed to when they conceded a penalty. We were witnessing history, comedy, tragedy, the lot. Casemiro took the first penalty and missed. Destiny was surely calling to Coventry, but André Onana rose to the occasion, flying to his right to paw away one penalty, craftily engineering a miss from another, and saving Erik ten Hag’s job. For now, anyway. Tim de Lisle

Match report: Coventry 3-3 Manchester United (2-4 pens)

Match report: Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea

Match report: Fulham 1-3 Liverpool

Match report: Wolves 0-2 Arsenal

Match report: Everton 2-0 Nottingham Forest

Match report: Sheffield United 1-4 Burnley

Match report: Aston Villa 3-1 Bournemouth

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Ten Hag insists United have more to learn as Coventry manager 'really proud' despite loss – video

Sun, 04/21/2024 - 21:26

Mark Robins, the Coventry City manager, was full of praise for his side after they fought back from three goals down to almost knock Manchester Untied out of the FA Cup. Coventry narrowly missed out on a place in the FA Cup final after losing on penalties following a dramatic game. Robins' side thought they had won right at the end of extra time when Victor Torp had put them 4-3 up but his goal was disallowed for a marginal offside against Haji Wright, sending the game to penalties. Despite walking away as victors, Ten Hag insisted that United 'got away with it' and have a lot to learn.

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Erik ten Hag bemoans Manchester United’s ‘very low levels’ in FA Cup scare

Sun, 04/21/2024 - 20:55
  • “There was a lack of discipline … today we got away with it”
  • United win on penalties after Coventry’s late comeback

Erik ten Hag admitted Manchester United “got away with it” after they somehow survived an epic Coventry comeback from 3-0 down to seal victory in the penalty shootout and set up a rematch of last year’s FA Cup final against Manchester City.

United appeared to be cruising towards an easy victory when Bruno Fernandes added to first-half goals from Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire just before the hour mark. But having opted to withdraw the outstanding Kobbie Mainoo from midfield, Ten Hag watched on in horror as Coventry hit back through Ellis Simms and Callum O’Hare before Haji Wright’s added-time penalty took the game to extra time.

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Victor Torp’s torment: the greatest ever FA Cup moment that wasn’t

Sun, 04/21/2024 - 20:17

Coventry fans now young will grow old still remembering those 90 seconds of unimaginable bliss at the end of extra time

Afterwards, and in perhaps their first act of restraint all afternoon, Manchester United had the judgment and basic dignity not to celebrate too vigorously. Rasmus Højlund offered a few fist pumps after his winning penalty and Antony cupped an arrogant ear towards the Coventry fans, but for the most part United’s players headed for their beaten opponents in the centre circle, clasped hands and slapped shoulders, consoled and commiserated. Respectful of the gulf between them, these two footballing worlds collided, briefly dissolving into each other, and eventually going their separate ways.

How unevenly football’s joy is parcelled out. The United end was empty within seconds of the final kick, their fans already heading back to the tube station in anticipation of a fifth trip to Wembley in the space of 15 months. For Coventry’s fans, meanwhile, the memories of this game, and this day, and this comeback, will sustain them for decades. Fans who are now young will grow old still remembering those 90 seconds of unimaginable bliss at the end of extra time, those golden moments after Victor Torp’s winning goal hit the net and before it had been ruled out for offside. No wonder their end of the stadium was still packed 15 minutes after full time, trying to eke out every last moment, gulp in every last breath. Who knows when they will feel this way again?

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Man Utd 3-3 Coventry (4-2pens): FA Cup semi-final player ratings

Sun, 04/21/2024 - 19:54

Coventry captain Ben Sheaf excelled in midfield, as did Kobbie Mainoo, but it was a tough afternoon for Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Bradley Collins
Not much he could do about any of the goals but produced a stunning save to tip over Marcus Rashford’s shot from close range and outfoxed Casemiro in the shootout. 7

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Manchester Utd survive epic Coventry comeback to reach FA Cup final

Sun, 04/21/2024 - 18:48

This was the grandmother and granddaddy of all FA Cup ties which at a breathless close had Manchester United somehow scraping through 4-2 on penalties, after a beyond ­valiant Coventry City reeled in a 3-0 deficit at 71 minutes, forcing extra time in the 95th of the regulation, via Haji Wright’s cooler than cool ­equalising penalty.

When the shootout came Bradley Collins saved Casemiro’s opener before Coventry took a 2-1 lead through Wright and Victor Torp, Diogo Dalot scoring United’s. Then came sheer heartache for the Sky Blues as they failed to register again.

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Coventry City v Manchester United: FA Cup semi-final – live

Sun, 04/21/2024 - 16:12

An email! “A minor point, I know,” says Jason Jawando, “but Coventry beat United in the fourth round of the FA Cup in 1987. Alex Fergusson only lost once in the third round, against Leeds in 2010. Ah thanks, you’re quite right – in the third round, United had beaten Manchester City, as they surely won’t if they win today. I’ll make a correction.

Meanwhile, in the relegation six-pointer at Goodison … Everton have got a second against Forest, which should make them safe-ish. It’s good news for Burnley, who, as things stand, are breathing down Forest’s necks, only three points adrift. Daniel Harris is on the case here.

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‘I’ve never had my favourite team on the pitch’: Ten Hag defends United tenure

Sat, 04/20/2024 - 22:30
  • Manager talks injuries before FA Cup semi-final with Coventry
  • ‘I can’t put any energy into whether I am judged fairly or not’

Erik ten Hag does not care how his Manchester United tenure is viewed by the outside world, the manager blaming the constant flow of injuries at the club for only playing a full-strength team once in 106 matches.

Ten Hag is set for a second successive FA Cup semi-final on Sunday when United face the Championship side Coventry at Wembley. United sit seventh in the league with the FA Cup their last chance of securing silverware this season and easing the pressure on him. The Dutchman led United to the final last season but they lost to Manchester City and he is aiming to go one better 12 months later.

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Coventry’s street-smarts launched Huckerby’s solo flight to stun United

Sat, 04/20/2024 - 20:00

Highfield Road 1997 and a late Sky Blues goal stuns Manchester United – a victory that will inspire Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final underdogs

Football’s “dark arts” can be deliciously contentious. When does game management become flagrant cheating? Is tactical fouling ever fair? And if a ballboy delays the resumption of play when his side are leading 2-1 in stoppage time, is it justifiable for the opponent’s manager to sprint down the touchline and celebrate a stunning two-goal turnaround in the poor lad’s face?

While some cunning ploys ultimately breach the laws or spirit of the game, others nestle sweetly within their boundaries. The former Coventry striker Noel Whelan says his old side should employ the latter to defeat Manchester United in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.

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‘Real deal’ Robins relies on Sky Blues thinking for reunion with United

Sat, 04/20/2024 - 08:00

Coventry fans will travel in numbers for their FA Cup semi-final on Sunday – a reflection of their long-serving manager’s impact

When Jürgen Klopp announced in January he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season, it was not just the news itself that seemed strange. The shock, the communal widening of the eyes, was in part because, with the shelf life of managers shorter than ever, rarely does anyone go on their own terms.

Since Klopp informed the Liverpool hierarchy last November of his intention to step down, 27 managers in the top four divisions – almost one third of those employed – have been dismissed. At eight and a half years Klopp has worked unbroken in the Premier League or EFL for longer than any other current manager and the heir to that throne, Pep Guardiola, reached a similar untouchable point some time ago.

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Ten Hag calms talk of divided squad as Wilcox appointed technical director

Fri, 04/19/2024 - 18:52
  • Manager forgives Garnacho and says: ‘We move on’
  • Wilcox leaves role as Southampton’s director of football

Erik ten Hag has denied claims of ­factions within his Manchester United squad, while attempting to put a line under a string of recent controversies.

On a day when Jason Wilcox was confirmed as United’s technical director, joining from Southampton, Ten Hag sought to further cool waters after Alejandro Garnacho apologised for the faux-pas of liking a social media post critical of his manager.

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'It is very sad': Guardiola and Ten Hag react to removal of FA Cup replays – video

Fri, 04/19/2024 - 17:10

The Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, has said the move to scrap replays in the FA Cup next season is "very sad for the British football culture." Replays are to be dropped from the first round onwards and the final moved to the penultimate weekend of the Premier League campaign, as part of a deal agreed between the FA and Premier League. Mark Bullingham, the FA’s chief executive, said the agreement would secure “a strong format for the future” for a trophy that continues to generate the majority of the FA’s income. The Premier League is understood to have argued that change was necessary due to the expansion of European fixtures from next season. For smaller clubs that traditionally stood to benefit from replays, however, this perspective has not been shared.

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‘That goal kickstarted an era’: how Mark Robins saved Alex Ferguson

Fri, 04/19/2024 - 12:11

As the Coventry manager prepares to meet his old club, his former United teammates discuss that goal in 1990

Legend has it that Mark Robins saved the career of an ailing Manchester United manager in 1990. On Sunday at Wembley he could influence the future of another. When Robins was 20, amid a United run of 11 matches without a league win, Alex Ferguson hoped his young striker could provide a much-needed spark in a January FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest – and it worked.

United went on to beat Crystal Palace in an FA Cup final replay and 34 years later Robins will lead Coventry against his former club in the semi-finals. Winning the competition arguably rescued Ferguson’s job in a season when United finished 13th in the First Division. The then chairman, Martin Edwards, always denied Ferguson was on the brink but the results were grim. A loss at the City Ground could have proven fatal but local boy Robins ensured United marched on.

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Premier League and FA Cup semis: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 04/19/2024 - 00:00

Two big Wembley meetings await in the Cup, while a desperation derby looks to be in store at Goodison Park

There was a distinct end-of-season vibe at the Gtech Community Stadium following Brentford’s recent win over Sheffield United, with Thomas Frank and his players performing what amounted to a lap of honour as they took plaudits from fans relieved that the spectre of relegation had finally been banished from their small corner of west London. Of course only time will tell if the Bees become the first Premier League team to decamp to the metaphorical beach this season and this weekend’s match against Luton at Kenilworth Road will provide a fair indication. Ravaged by injury with up to 11 players likely to be unavailable, Luton were on a hiding to nothing in their game against Manchester City but still emerged from the rout with their heads held high having restricted the champions to a one-goal lead until their capitulation after the hour mark. It is increasingly difficult to compliment Rob Edwards’ side without sounding condescending, but if it transpires that the Brentford side that turns up in Bedfordshire has mentally tapped out, the Premier League’s most dashing manager, his players and their fans are unlikely to have any complaints whatsoever. Barry Glendenning

Luton v Brentford, Premier League, Saturday 3pm (all times BST)

Sheffield United v Burnley, Premier League, Saturday 3pm

Manchester City v Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final, Saturday 5.15pm

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A US Premier League game would be wildly popular – and demean everyone

Thu, 04/18/2024 - 16:00

Fifa is considering a policy change that would allow leagues to play domestic matches overseas, reopening one of football’s most squalid ideas

The dream – or nightmare – of a 39th Premier League match in America has drawn a little closer. After reaching a settlement with US promoter Relevent Sports, Fifa last week signaled it will consider changes to its policy of blocking league matches from being played outside the league’s home country. The indication that Fifa’s thinking on the issue may be evolving in a more flexible direction will be welcomed by Europe’s top clubs and deplored by football traditionalists.

For clubs, the commercial case is clear. This is an argument anchored not in culture but money. The work of evangelizing soccer is already done; the sport is not like American football, say, or rugby league, or basketball, or even cricket, which are still trawling the globe for converts and regularly hold matches overseas. In the world of professional sport, football is No 1 and probably always will be. Taking chunks of the European domestic season on the road represents a juicy financial opportunity, potentially unlocking valuable revenue to help weather the storm of a newly restrictive regulatory environment and bringing teams closer to the millions of football fans who live outside Europe.

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Do I not like that: Ten Hag rebukes Garnacho for social media activity

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 19:05
  • Winger liked posts on X criticising Manchester United coach
  • Argentinian withdrawn at half time in 2-2 draw at Bournemouth

Alejandro Garnacho has been ­spoken to by Erik ten Hag after the ­Manchester United winger liked tweets that criticised his half-time substitution at Bournemouth and suggested he had been “thrown under the bus” by the head coach.

Garnacho quickly removed his likes on the two messages, which the club believe shows contrition, and any further action will be decided internally.

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Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s football action

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 08:00

Adam Wharton shines on Merseyside, Mateo Kovacic displays City’s depth and Erik ten Hag gets tetchy

Joachim Andersen was named Sky’s man of the match at Anfield and with good reason. But while the Danish centre-back won header after header and made clearance after clearance, and while the front three of Jean-Philippe Mateta, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise caused repeated problems on the break, there was one figure who stood out in midfield for his calmness: Adam Wharton, perhaps the brightest of the hugely promising generation brought through by Tony Mowbray at Blackburn. The 20-year-old moved to Palace in January for an initial fee of £18m and has played at least some part in every Crystal Palace game since. No other Palace player came close to his pass completion rate of 88% and, while they rode their luck to an extent in the second half, they’d have had to ride a lot more had it not been for his distribution, which helped prevent Liverpool building up a head of steam. Jonathan Wilson

Match report: Liverpool 0-1 Crystal Palace

Match report: Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa

Match report: Manchester City 5-1 Luton Town

Match report: Bournemouth 2-2 Manchester United

Match report: West Ham 0-2 Fulham

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Premier League weekend awards: Casemiro woes and Newcastle’s cutting edge

Sun, 04/14/2024 - 20:42

From Newcastle’s forward line to a comical series of own goals, we hand out honors (and dishonors) from the top-flight weekend

Arsenal were stunned by Aston Villa 2-0 at home to hand Manchester City the advantage in the title race. If you’re looking for a microcosm of Ollie Watkins’s season, look no further than his goal on Sunday:

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