FA Cup Final Talking Points: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag seeks redemption at Wembley as Pep Guardiola seeks more Man City history | football news

The two managers preparing their teams for Saturday’s FA Cup final could hardly do so in more polarized circumstances.

While Manchester City are enjoying a period of unprecedented success in English football, United are weathering a storm so fierce it may not abate even if they beat the odds and beat their rivals at Wembley.

The contrasting fortunes of Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag are just one of the talking points ahead of Saturday’s main event. sky sports Football journalists take a look at what’s at stake this weekend.

Does the final matter more to Ten Hag?

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Dean Ashton says Manchester United ‘got away with it’ after beating Coventry City on penalties to reach FA Cup final

After one of the club’s worst league seasons in a generation, the writing could already be on the wall for Ten Hag after two years in the job, as new minority owners INEOS consider the best way to take the club forward.

The United manager has overseen the club’s lowest Premier League finish, as well as 14 league defeats and a negative first goal difference, while defeat at Wembley will leave them facing just a second season since 1989/90 without European football.

Four wins in the final 13 games of the Premier League season, a run that included a calamitous 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in early May, was an indicator that progress under their Dutch manager was has stalled, while even the manner in which they reached Saturday’s final, in which they squandered a 3-0 semi-final lead against Championship team Coventry and required penalties to advance, drew harsh criticism.

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Erik ten Hag admitted Manchester United’s season hasn’t been good enough, but he is now looking forward to the chance to win the FA Cup against Manchester City next weekend.

Ten Hag described the media’s hostile reception to the semi-final victory as “shameful”, but his assessment of United’s performance against the Sky Blues was a snapshot of a campaign in which they have consistently been accused of failing to perform. control over the games.

There would be no shortage of candidates should Sir Jim Ratcliffe decide on a move, with Mauricio Pochettino, considered for the job in 2022 before Ten Hag’s appointment, being the last name available following his departure from Chelsea.

Former Blues bosses Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, as well as England boss Gareth Southgate, have also been linked, as has Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna.

Ultimately, the decision could come down to how much of United’s demise is seen as falling on Ten Hag’s shoulders and how much is a product of more structural issues outside the manager’s control.
Ben Lands

Last chance for the decisive match of the Euro Cup

Harry Maguire celebrates doubling Man Utd's lead
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Harry Maguire must prove his suitability for the England team

With England and Scotland announcing their provisional squad for Euro 2024 this week, Saturday’s FA Cup final offers a final change for the players to get some vital playing minutes under their belt.

Manchester United have three players in Gareth Southgate’s squad. Youngster Kobbie Mainoo will be hoping to finish his breakthrough season on a high, while Harry Maguire has been a constant presence in an injury-hit backline, a role he will likely continue to play in England.

The big question remains Luke Shaw. He hasn’t played football since February and it is unlikely that he will feature this weekend. However, he is England’s only recognized left-back but faces an uphill battle to reach Germany.

One Manchester United player likely to leave is Scotsman Scott McTominay. A talisman for his country, he started the final three games of the Premier League season and was named captain against Arsenal.

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England manager Gareth Southgate explains why he left Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson out of his provisional Euro squad.

Manchester City’s Phil Foden and captain Kyle Walker will hope to have another trophy in their pockets heading into the Euros after good campaigns.

But John Stones, normally an England regular alongside Maguire, started just 12 league games this season, partly due to injury and partly due to the form of other players.

Jack Grealish has also struggled with injuries at times. Both he and Stones will hope to get some minutes to help cement his place in Southgate’s 26.

But both the England coach and Scotland’s Steve Clarke also hope that a serious injury will not prevent his inclusion. A headache that no one needs at this point in the season with an important tournament on the horizon.
charlotte marshall

Can Haaland reach another milestone?

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Manchester City’s celebrations didn’t stop on the pitch and continued singing and dancing in the locker room!

He may not have equaled last year’s impressive tally of 52, but despite missing a considerable chunk of the season before Christmas with a foot injury, City’s top scorer Erling Haaland is on the brink of a significant milestone by scoring 40 or more goals. in all competitions in consecutive seasons.

To achieve this he needs two goals at Wembley, which in turn would take his City total to 92 since joining from Borussia Dortmund less than two years ago.

The Norwegian has also been involved in nine goals in five games against United in all competitions (6 goals, 3 assists), more than against any other team as a Manchester City player.

Having failed to score in the Champions League final last season and failing to shine against Real Madrid in the competition’s semi-finals this season, Haaland will want to prove not only to himself that he is capable of providing decisive moments in the most important stage.
Ben Lands

The snubbed Rashford has something to prove

Mark Rashford
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Marcus Rashford has had a difficult season

It has been a punishing couple of weeks for Marcus Rashford. After a heated argument with a Manchester United fan marred his return to the team in the 3-2 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford, the striker was surprisingly left out of Gareth Southgate’s provisional England squad for the Euros.

His omission came after a bad season. Rashford, scorer of 30 goals in all competitions last season, has only scored eight times this season. Southgate feels he has been surpassed by others at international level and that touchline row at Old Trafford underlined his strained relationship with fans.

Many have lost patience with their ineffective actions. It is clear that Rashford is playing without confidence, but at times there has also been a lack of application. Off-pitch disciplinary issues, including an unauthorized trip to Belfast, have not helped.

His value is low but he should have something to prove at Wembley and Manchester City had a reminder of how dangerous he can be the last time the teams met, in March, when his sensational long-range strike at the Etihad Stadium put United in front.

Rashford’s goal was in vain on that occasion, but he also scored against Pep Guardiola’s side last season, converting Alejandro Garnacho’s cross for a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

He’s not necessarily guaranteed to be on the team this time. His last visit to Wembley, for the semi-final against Coventry City, ended with boos from some fans when he was substituted. He hasn’t started since, and Amad Diallo impressed in his absence.

But it is suspected that Manchester City would be much happier if his name did not appear on the team list on Saturday. They know the damage it can cause. Now would be an opportune time for him to comply.
Nick Wright

Manchester City seeks the double

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Kyle Walker explains the secret behind Manchester City’s four Premier League titles in a row

It may seem diluted in the context of the treble City won last season, but although they failed to retain their European crown, they can still become the first team to win consecutive league and cup doubles.

They could be a second piece of history this campaign after becoming the first team in English football history to win four consecutive league titles.

Whatever the result, it will be the first time since the 1884/85 season that the final has been contested by the same teams in consecutive seasons, the most recent pairing being Blackburn and Scottish side Queen’s Park, with Rovers winning both games.

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Bernardo Silva reflects after Manchester City became the first team to win the English top flight title four times in a row.

City manager Pep Guardiola admitted he will be “closer to leaving than staying” at the Etihad Stadium after next season, following his team’s record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League title.

Speaking after the 3-1 win over West Ham that sealed the title by a two-point margin over Arsenal, Guardiola said: “My feeling is that I want to stay now. I will stay next season and during the season we will talk.” . But in eight or nine years we’ll see.”

The 53-year-old also acknowledged that he had considered leaving after last season’s treble, stating that he felt there was little more left to achieve after the 1-0 win over Inter Milan that won them the Champions League.

That feeling could yet return if City become the first English club to achieve back-to-back league and cup doubles on Saturday, particularly if it proves to be a precursor to an unprecedented fifth successive title next season.
Ben Lands

PS: The European hopes of other clubs…

United’s victory will mean they take the Europa League spot in the competition, but a win for City will be good news for two of their league rivals.

Sixth-placed Chelsea could qualify for the European secondary competition if Pep Guardiola’s team triumphs, while Newcastle, who played in the Champions League this season, would earn a place in the Europa Conference League.

If United win the cup, Chelsea will play in the Conference League and Newcastle will miss out on participation in Europe entirely.

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