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FA Cup win still isn’t enough to save Ten Hag

It was a great privilege to sit at Old Trafford and witness the spectacularly exciting FA Cup tie between United and Liverpool. It was also…

It was a great privilege to sit at Old Trafford and witness the spectacularly exciting FA Cup tie between United and Liverpool. It was also the day when it was clear to see that the players of Manchester are backing their coach Erik Ten Hag despite all the talk that he will be replaced in the summer. United proved that on their day they are a match for any team. However, after the match I spoke with several of my contacts inside the club and there is definitely a feeling that even a match such as this and United getting through to the Cup semi-finals won’t be enough to save Ten Hag at the end of the season.

I was interested to see new 25% owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s main man at Old Trafford Sir Dave Brailsford sitting straight faced for most of the match although even he threw his arms in the air at the final whistle. If United had lost, it would definitely have been the end for the coach but the win has bought him some more time but probably not after the end of the season and I know Ratcliffe has drawn up a list of possible replacements. The word is strong that England coach Gareth Southgate is Ratcliffe’s favourite to succeed Ten Hag.

The coach does have a possible escape route because Dutch club Ajax have him down on their short list to take over should he be dismissed. Sunday’s brilliant, entertaining match was a thrill for the fans but Ratcliffe and Brailsford are businessmen and in reality only a successful run until the end of the season during which United would need to climb above Tottenham or Aston Villa will save his job. Financially big clubs with huge overheads, such as United, need Champions League football and the cash rewards it brings. Probably the most important match for United to win now is the one against Liverpool on the 7th April but in reality they cannot afford to lose another match.

Eriksen speaks to Ten Hag about his playing time

With the sensational rise of Kobbi Mainoo in the heart of Manchester United’s midfield, Christian Eriksen has found himself sitting on the sub’s bench for the last six Premier League games. During that time he has not been used and only featured in a cup match. Erik Ten Hag has preferred to start with Casemiro partnered by either Mainoo or Scott McTominay. Eriksen has one year left on his contract and he has had a heart to heart meeting with Ten Hag and explained that he wants more playing time. Such is Mainoo’s spectacular rise, he has been selected for England’s senior national team squad at only 18 years of age.

Players who could be on the move

Speaking with clubs this week I learned that Mikel Arteta has now cooled his interest in signing Brentford’s Ivan Toney who will leave the Bees whether they avoid relegation or not. Chelsea are very keen to take him to Stamford Bridge and Tottenham are still searching for a Harry Kane replacement so they are keeping their interest alive. Arsenal are now looking at Sporting Lisbon’s Swedish star Victor Gyokeres who is 25 years of age. Tottenham’s Timo Werner has spoken to the manager and asked for his loan from RB Leipzig to be made permanent. Timo would cost around £15 million and has been showing definite signs of improvement under Ange Postecoglou.

Fury over Forest four point deduction

The four point deduction for Nottingham Forest for breaking the Fair Play rules is totally unfair according to the staff and its supporters. To emphasise how devastating this is for the club fighting a relegation battle, the deduction news was withheld from the players for three days so that their performances in last Saturday’s match against Luton were not affected. The fact is that football is being run by lawyers and accountants who affect decisions which impact on the clubs and their fans. Four points is the equivalent of a win and a draw, something Forest would eagerly jump at given their precarious position in the table. Forest have beaten five clubs this season, Everton, Palace, Newcastle, Sheffield United and Brighton…and in none of those matches did they walk away with four points! And who are these people who decide that Forest lose four points or Everton six points earlier this season? They are called an independent panel which largely consists of lawyers and accountants!

The Fair play rules are, according to Forest and several other PL clubs, unfair to clubs, unfair to players, unfair to fans and unfair to investors. The rules are in desperate need of change.

One ridiculous fact is that Forest have until May 24 to appeal. The season ends on May 19 so it is quite possible that as the gates are closed on the final day of the season we might not know which clubs are relegated until the lawyers and accountants have had their say.

Everton working in the sun

Taking advantage of the international break Everton jetted out early to Portugal to begin their “working” international break. On arriving in the sunshine the team booked into their hotel and went straight to a training pitch to begin working on their final end of season run in and hopefully avoid relegation. On the first day coach Sean Dyche worked with Abdoulaye Doucoure who hasn’t scored for three months but is still the club’s top goalscorer. Jarrad Braithwaite worked on a weights session in the gym to build up his muscle strength and because the club left early England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was able to join the group but will return to the national squad for the friendly against Brazil. Everton have now gone 11 games without a win following their 2-0 defeat to Manchester United. Their next game is away at Bournemouth on March 30th.

Fernandes says no to yellow cards for shirt removal

I have heard many players criticising receiving a yellow card for removing their shirt during a goal celebration. This week it was the turn of Bruno Fernandes who said the rule “had to change.” Scoring Manchester United’s dramatic late winner at the weekend against hot rivals Liverpool, Amad Diallo was sent off for a second caution and receiving a red card. Fernandes said, “Unfortunately he got sent off but it’s part of the moment and part of being young. The moment has to be enjoyed and I think it is one of the rules that has to change because you should be able to celebrate a goal but obviously with respect to the opponents.”

*Diallo revealed that he had played and scored that dramatic late winner against bitter rivals Liverpool whilst fasting during Ramadan. That meant no food or drink (including water) from dawn until sunset. What a player!

Palmer about to double his salary

Following his move from Manchester City and hitting a rich run of form with Chelsea, Cole Palmer has earned himself a big pay rise. The England man joined the Blues on a seven year deal worth £75k a week after signing a contract which cost Chelsea a £42.4 million transfer fee. Palmer is still only 21 years of age but he can expect to double his current salary which brings his take home pay closer to the sums earned by some underperforming players at the club.