Arsenal bite back against mid-table Manchester United as Ten Hag In and Out campaigns clash

Editor F365
Arsenal fans with Erik ten Hag and Sir Jim Ratcliffe of Manchester United
Arsenal fans have been dragged into the Manchester United melodrama

The FA Cup final was proof of why Manchester United should both keep and sack Erik ten Hag. Arsenal supporters are not sure why they’re being dragged in.

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Marching in
What a great race it was for promotion in the Championship this year, culminating in Sunday’s entertaining — and tight — play-off final.

After seeing Leicester take Saints to pieces at St Mary’s last Autumn, I was fairly certain the Foxes would be taking one of the automatic promotion places, but was left far from unconvinced about Russell Martin’s possession-to-the-max philosophy, an approach that appeared to be too vulnerable to teams playing quickly on the break. After the long unbeaten spell, I was happy to be proven wrong, and I was happily surprised by the tactical flexibility Martin showed in the final by setting up to play a completely different way against Leeds (who were unlucky to come away empty handed from the season after accruing so many points).

It will be interesting to see if Russell Martin evolves his footballing philosophy when faced with the challenge of the top tier.
Remy the Saint


Arsenal’s performance
I was disappointed with Arsenal’s performance on Saturday. I felt we had a really good season, but we let ourselves down on Saturday. After the great run we had (16 wins in 18 matches), to end the season like that on Saturday was disappointing.

What? Arsenal didn’t play? Then why on earth were there two emails denigrating us, and acting as though that had any bearing whatsoever on our season? I mean, I know it is two of the usual culprits, but you don’t have to publish them.

I get why people were happy City won the league, I would have been the same if any of our rivals were against them in a title race. Arsenal winning would mean something. But United winning the cup has no bearing on Arsenal whatsoever.
Jaimie Kaffash, AFC, north London


The idea that United had a better season than Arsenal only makes sense within the context of what each club is aspiring to achieve and the standards being set. Right now the standard at United is of a distinctly mid-table variety so I can see how their fans believe they had a better season than Arsenal by winning the FA cup. Apparently, this is now how we need to frame things when we’re talking about Manchester United Football Club.

Like any mid-table side, they had no chance of winning the league this season. If your ultimate goal is reduced to scamming a lesser trophy against a City team clearly still feeling the effects of their post-weekend celebration as opposed to actually winning the league then obviously comparing yourself to a team aiming for the latter while also trying to win the Champions League and going toe-to-toe with the most dominant English team possibly ever is a bit apples/oranges, no?
MAW, LA Gooner (Had we finished a distant 2nd behind City when the aim was to at least legitimately challenge for the title again then, honestly, a 15th FA cup wouldn’t really have made me feel better about our season. Again, standards…)


I remember back then when we needed an FA Cup win to rescue a miserable season, add a semblance of success to a wretched season, like missing out on the top 4 to Liverpool or finishing 8th. Sounds familiar?  The difference is that we were not deluded enough to feel we had a good season.

Club football is all about rewards. Depending on how you performed the previous season, you get rewarded the next season, and we can all agree that the Champions league is bigger than the Europa league, which in turn is bigger than the Europa conference league.

That being said, FA cup is not bigger than top 4, it’s considered inferior. That is why it only gets you into UEFA’s inferior tournament. I do not rate Carabao (Carling Cup). Back in the days it was an excuse to play your fringe players. It was won by the likes of Swansea and Tottenham. I find it amusing that Mr. Badwolf will think that FA cup ranks above top 4. INEOS is saying that when analyzing ETH, the FA cup will be a non factor. Please let that sink in. This cup that you rate so much is called a non factor.

Jose Mourinho was sacked before a Cup final, because that Cup was a non factor.

As Arsenal fans, we know we came up short, and we are hurt, but proud…but do not say winning FA cup is better than what Arteta and his boys achieved, we have worn that shoe before, and we know it’s not better at all
Kufre, Port Harcourt, Nigeria


What a way to go out
Now that I’ve had a day to come down from that glorious high the notion of this United performance being the greatest of the post Fergie era hasn’t diminished. There have certainly been other great games, like PSG under Ole, and other trophies won but to overcome such odds against the country’s best team and win a major trophy given the context of the season makes this unparalleled in the last 10 years.

Ten Hag finally discovered a plan his players could stick to, and it wasn’t particularly complicated. Press high and aggressively out of possession but only for the first phase, if you don’t win the ball back get into shape quickly. The tight 4-2-4 defensive shape presented City with a wall to pass through and two dogged fighters pouncing on anything that made it through.

In attack the surprise starter Rashford was designed to run in behind but as we’ve seen in derbies previous Walker is just faster and stronger than him. With that avenue shut down the play switched to Garnacho, beautiful glorious Garnacho. He had the £100m Gvardiol on toast the whole game.

The recklessness we’ve witnessed over the last few months where the ball is launched forward at any opportunity was gone. The moments to play through City’s high line were considered and relatively infrequent as both Bruno and Mainoo chose instead to hold possession and wait for better chances. The counter punches when they came were devastating.

There was talk last week that the only unpredictable starter for City would be Doku or Kovacic. With this choice defining if Pep was set up for wide attacks or press resistance. With the Croatian starting Pep played directly into the hands of Ten Hag. They simply had no way through as all the play was focused centrally. On the odd occasion their attackers found space a bald Morrocan battering ram came a thundering on to shut that down and usually knock them down too.

👉 Six reasons Sir Jim Ratcliffe shouldn’t sack Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag
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Every single United player was brilliant. Even the substitutes, which Ten Hag invariably gets wrong, played their roles perfectly. The discipline and belief were in stark contrast to the season norm and why I can’t give that credit to the manager. After the heavy defeat away at Palace the travelling fans stayed to sing and chant for the team until they were forced to leave by stadium staff. Many United players referenced that during their post match interviews on Saturday. How emboldened they were by the fans and how that gave them confidence. So credit goes to the best away support in the world, you guys should have one hand on the cup.

This speaks to Ten Hags position as manager. It was always the case the INEOS would want their own people at the club. Nearly all the major people behind the scenes have already been shown the door. For the manager to be spared from this he needed to perform to his highest level. He didn’t. This game aside Ten Hag has managed the team poorly regardless of circumstance.

I believe INEOS are uncomfortable with the level of power and authority he has at club. He basically dictates everything related to team activity including training schedules and diet which just doesnt fit with the modern club that United need to become. I think they’ll sack him and get a promising coach (probably McKenna) who will be happy to just coach the team he’s given.

I like Ten Hag but it’s the right decision for the long term future of United. What a way to go out though.
Dave, Manchester

What a way to stay in
Now that ETH has another trophy under his belt, he has come out swinging by asking how exactly is he being measured? Must he play aesthetically pleasing football that satisfies the media and pundits? How did that work out for Potter, De Zerbi or Howe? Ange was the darling of the media at the beginning of the season but now he is being ridiculed as naive. Even Arsenal, the current owners of the “joga bonito” crown are still trophy less after 5 seasons.

Yes we played like sh*te for much of the season and won games we should have drawn or even lost but we also delivered some memorable entertainment along the way. The Liverpool Cup game may well have been the game of the season for entertainment value.

If it’s a results based business, ETH can cite 3 Cup Finals in 2 years with 2 trophies, one CL place and one Europe League place. Deserved? Maybe not. Lucky? So what. In the meantime, he has brought through two academy players with a healthy pipeline on the way. Isn’t that exactly “United DNA” that Neville et al go on about? Oh, and to answer the question that Alan Shearer asked as to why did it take so long to see MUFC play this well, perhaps its because it was only the FIFTH time this season ETH could play his first choice Center Backs.

So what if he is sacked? ETH can rightly say that he will be snapped up by a top club and will win trophies, leaving MUFC still needing to clean house and do all the things ETH (and Rangnick before him) says that needs to be done.

ETH lacks the charisma of a Klopp so never really got the media onside and does at times, come across as prickly. But he wasn’t, and shouldn’t have been hired to be nice. To fire him now will show that for all that is changed, MUFC remains the same.
Adidasmufc (If I was ETH, I would tell the Board to either back me or sack me and let me get a better job)


📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Should Manchester United sack Erik ten Hag? Join the debate here.


Great Scott
Like I imagine most United fans – and Will Ford – I am still reeling from the FA Cup win.

There have been many words written, very few of them written before the match (or hastily re-written after it). But none that I’ve seen have mentioned the most surprising moment of the whole match. And that was the moment that saw Scotty McTominay not just passing but dribbling by and retaining possession from multiple City players on the touchline.

It still seems so unlikely that I may need to watch the match again to check it wasn’t a fever dream. I literally didn’t think the lad had it in him. I guess it was just one of those special days.
Badwolf (Give him 4 more years, Sir Jim)


If our loss keeps Ten Hag in his job, can we reduce it to 114 for community service?
Paul, Manchester


Shear class
How brilliant it was to see Ten Hag put Alan Shearer back in his little box during the BBC post match interview.


Ruined childhoods
It has become very clear to me there are members of the media that do not want United to succeed again.
Beefy, United


Manage a Troyes
As a change to the FA Cup chat… but still tangentially related, let’s quickly mention the City Football Group, and in particular Troyes – a relatively small club in France.

They seem to have been used as a front for the City Group to acquire players and staff, meanwhile dropping down two leagues from Ligue 1 in two years.

And now their former record signing Savio is joining Man City having been shuffled around the City Group pack over the last few years, presumably to help secure work permits or something.

Pretty callous, from what I can tell, and very much in keeping with a group with 115 other causes for concern hanging over them.