Man Utd have to treat Carabao Cup like the World Cup; Newcastle already celebrated like it

Editor F365
Manchester United pair Antony and Harry Maguire

Manchester United could win a trophy if they put all their eggs in the Carabao Cup basket because this team is decent. Plus, thoughts on assistant referees and the FA Cup.

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Top four and a trophy for Man Utd please
So, following the 3-0 win against Charlton yesterday, which should have put the game to bed in the first half really, it gives United a further step in the right direction in possibly winning a trophy again for the first time in 5 years. However, with Newcastle having gone through against Leicester yesterday, and Man City fully expected to beat Southampton tonight, the toughest obstacles are still to come if United want to win the League Cup this season.

I think it is actually crucial United treat the League Cup almost like the World Cup or Champions League really. Maybe sad to say and shows some form of desperation, but it sums up the reality of the situation. United need a trophy badly to kickstart some form of domestic success again and it will ease a huge amount of pressure of Ten Haag and some of the current players as well.

My only worry is if United get to another final and lose as they did in 2018 in the FA Cup Final & also in 2021 in the Europa League final, it will definitely create some form of psychological doubt they cannot get over the line when it really matters. With the team playing well currently though, and the team actually showing some form of leadership from players such as Casemiro, Shaw, Rashford, Eriksen and Varane, there seems to be a new personality & belief from the squad in which Ten Haag has promoted & encouraged very well.

Ten Haag doesn’t seem like he would take shit from any kind of player too, got rid of Ronaldo and if Pogba & Lingard was still at the club, he would have probably told him to bugger off as well. But he has also coached the team to pass the ball around comfortably when under pressure from the opposition.

As for the upcoming League games against City & Arsenal, they are MASSIVE games for United and will make or break for United whether they can actually go and potentially challenge for the title this season. Yes, United & the fan base do need to be realistic though and make sure they don’t get ahead of themselves, as the games on paper since returning from the World Cup have not been against any Big big teams and been fairly easy. The toughest test was probably the game away against Wolves for Julien Lopetegui’s first game in charge at home for the team, and they are sitting 19th in the table, so that says it all.

My prediction against City though, is that United are definitely capable of getting a result, and I would say they can certainly do some damage against the City defence who have been shaky at time. They don’t seem to be the same defence without Dias at the back. City this season have been efficient nonetheless though, with Haaland & De Bruyne posing the biggest threats by far, but with players like Mahrez coming into form and players like Grealish & Alvaraz being able to come on and produce some form of creativity & pace, there is always some kind of different threat from City. I am going to predict the game to be a 2-2 draw, with a late equaliser coming from United. The best/most suitable line up for this game is the following in my opinion:

GK: De Gea

LB: Shaw
CB: Martinez
CB: Varane
RB: Dalot (Think he is injured though, so AWB will do, maybe even better for game against City)

CM: Casemiro (Obviously)
CM: Eriksen (Obviously)
CAM/CM: Bruno Fernandes (Fred to come on and keep the ball more)

RW: Anthony
ST: Martial (No other option, unless you play Garnacho on the left & Rashford down the middle)
LW: Rashford

As for the game against Arsenal, I think it will be a tougher test given it’s at the Emirates and Arsenal really are flying at the moment, full of energy and confidence. However, the best way to play against Arsenal is to simply defend, sucking up pressure and countering quick against them on the break.

I just think with Arsenal though, due to how young a team it is, and they are learning how to defend under pressure now as well, it’s going to be a huge test for United physically & mentally. I would predict a bit of a reality check for United in this game and predict a 2-1 win for Arsenal. It will be close, and I think United will definitely score, but Arsenal will want to make sure they get maximum points, especially with United playing City the weekend before and will be hoping for City to drop points in this game.

At the end of the day given its Ten Haag’s first season, the priority since start of the season remains the same in clinching a Top 4 spot and hopefully winning a Domestic or European Cup by May time. I still think another blip will come for United, just hope its not going to take place in April/May time when they need to finish strong. If United were to reach this goal of Top 4 & a trophy, I would give Ten Haag a solid 8 or 9 out of 10 given how much of terrible United were last season for a number of different reasons.
Rami (Manchester)


The kids are alright
The first half was comfortable for United. Even with the rotated squad, you could see the difference in skill between both teams. Antony scored a great goal which he has done a few times now which I’m ok with because I would rather he kept scoring in the first season than try to fully change his game as he has time to do that and I would be worried he would lose confidence like players have in the past.

Garnacho was the highlight of the half for me even without scoring or assisting. He just looked like a threat every time he was on the ball. Fred also looked good in the first half and is an alright squad player which he is at the moment and it’s why I think he’s looked better as he can relax more and play his natural game. Elanga again looks a bit clueless and is definitely needing a loan move to try to find his form and find what level of player he is.

The second half was more of a battle but still, I never felt like United would concede. It took until Casemiro, Eriksen and Rashford to come on to calm the game back down and it worked really well with Casemiro being a rock in the middle which allowed the other players to be more comfortable on the ball and attack more. Pellistri came on and was instantly impressive. I believe that Pellistri should already be ahead of Elanga and hopefully, he will be as I rate Pellistri quite highly and feel that he can be a real gem for United if he’s given the chance like he’s been given by Uruguay at international level. It was very nice to see Rashford get two late goals just to continue his form and hopefully keep him warm for City on Saturday.

Overall, It was a good win for United. It was nice to go into a game being able to rotate and still feel comfortable that we will win. Kobbie Mainoo made his debut at 17 which was great for him as he gets that experience early and looked comfortable for his debut and puts himself in a good position to be given more chances. Pellistri should be given more chances and hopefully, his small cameo here makes Ten Hag want to use him. Garnacho looked great even without scoring or assisting which is nice to see that he can have a good game without needing to score or assist and just be an asset to the team. Hopefully, we can go into the Derby confident and really go for it.


Pass the Dutchie
That Pep lookalike/wannabe at Old Trafford needs to be called out for his transfer shenanigans. The small man goes through the motions of acting like he’s scouting for talent from a diverse field only to finally show his hand by going for his fellow countryman.

I mean, what’s the obsession with Dutch players? 10hag isn’t even bothering to hide it anymore. Soon, we’ll have a Manchester United team with all starting 11 composed of Dutch players. 10hag is a jingoist.
PS – Ever notice how he shakes his head from side to side when answering questions during interviews? It’s like watching a cobra following a snake charmer’s movements. Very hypnotic…


Newcastle! Finally!
Just stuck on Sky Sports and saw the celebrations. Didn’t even realise there was a final on tonight, but at least the Newcastle fans now have something to cheer.

Edit: Just seen it was a last 16 game in the Carabao Cup. FFS Argentina didn’t celebrate that hard when they won the actual World Cup. Just a little bit pathetic.
Weldoninhio, BAC


Time to get rid of assistant referees in the top flight?
With the application of technology into the top flight/Major tournament levels of the modern game, I’ve noticed the perceived demise/redundancy of the Assistant referee role, to the point where I question their need anymore in their current capacity.

Let me caveat that, for those levels where the relevant tech is not involved, they still have many key parts of the game within their remit, however, taking the Premier League as an example, there are now a plethora of cameras covering all areas of the pitch and used to make major decisions, goal-line tech in place to determine goal/no-goal, as well as future advancements/enhancements in the shape of both semi-automated offside assistance which will be applied to improve offside accuracy and ‘Connected Ball Technology’ used to determine if/when the ball has been touched.

As a result of this, what unique role will this give the Assistant Referee outside of determining goal kicks/corners/throw ins and nearby fouls – ie. the role of their previous title ‘linesperson’ (and the aforementioned tech could make/support some if not all of these decisions). You may argue that along with the referee, they form a core officiating team to make collective decisions, however, I would argue that there is less consultation between the ref corp in this respect, and furthermore, the Assistant Referees appear less and less willing to make key decisions, knowing there is a ‘fall back’ in the tech if they get it wrong/don’t do anything.

On top of this, the perceived abuse/challenges they get from players appears heightened, with little or no ramifications on their actions, indicating that players don’t feel they are as important as they once used to be. Subsequently, is it time to take another leaf out of the oval shaped ball equivalents of Rugby and NFL and leave the master officiating to one sole decision maker, with external officiators supported by tech confirming/highlighting decisions? or is there still a role to play outside of sentimental/historical value?
Matt, West Mids


Giroud and the FA Cup
Two mailbox entries I’d like to touch upon:

Firstly, in response to Grahama Simons, a fellow Gooner. No I don’t see the sense in bringing Giroud back. What Jesus and Nketiah give you are a ridiculous amount of work rate, hassling and closing down defenders, forcing mistakes, pace in behind for Odegaard through balls. Olivier Giroud, as fantastic a player as he has been (he was a touch underrated at Arsenal, even if he could frustrate at times), does not give you these attributes.

Yes he would be handy at holding it up and waiting on Martinelli and Saka. He has a great header on him (we seldom put high crosses into the box). But allo of this compromises our style of play too greatly. Not to mention he’d probably demand some serious wages to do this job for us.

For me it’s a hard pass.

Secondly, Adam’s email in about the FA Cup. The whole narrative about the cup being dead has been so dull. The main aguments to this are lazy narratives that are frequently dispelled.

‘The big team’s play a weakened side and disrespect it’ – look at the winners of the last 10 years or so, and you’ve got Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Leicester. The big teams keep winning it.

‘You don’t see any big shocks anymore’ – please note the Aston Villa v Stevenage result on the weekend. If that isn’t ‘magic of the cup’ material then I don’t know what is.

Every fan loves a cup run, and there are many that would bite your arm off to watch their team play an FA Cup final, never mind win it. Anyone who says otherwise is putting on a front to avoid disappointment.

Keep blocking out that negativity and enjoy the competition good sir. It’s a great English footballing tradition.


Stop the FA Cup patronisation
I’ve always loved the FA Cup, mostly because it was the only regular football I could watch on TV, so from my point of view it has never been close to dying. Players still desperately want to win the thing and clubs still take it seriously.

I think though that the narrative around the cup dying has led to really lazy and tiresome media coverage of the competition. It seems like a marketing exercise dreamt up by BBC suits to try and hit all the things we supposedly love about the cup without actually asking us. Giant killing used to be exceptional and exciting simply because we weren’t expecting it. Now in every mismatched game we hear about how the plucky underdog could beat the Premier League juggernaut and it has the opposite effect of what they intend. We’re no longer as surprised as we should be when Stevenage beat Villa because everyone’s been harping on about how it could happen. When Wrexham beat Arsenal all those years ago it was earth shattering because nobody gave Wrexham a chance. Now you’d be forgiven for thinking they were the favourites.

When Leeds scored their equaliser in stoppage time the disappointment in the commentators’ voices was obvious. There’s an assumption that if you’re not a Leeds fan then you want Cardiff to win but the reality is that none of us care enough to proactively support the underdog. I just want to watch a game of football and I don’t need a narrative. I don’t need the active hunting for upsets because I’d quite like to watch all the football thanks.

Also, the way the media talk about lower league teams is incredibly patronising. It’s like the middle class bleeding hearts when they talk about the working class, they have an idealised version in their heads of plucky, honest and “just doing their best” that isn’t true at all. Just after Arsenal put their third past Oxford the commentators took to saying how well the Oxford defense played but with a tone that would usually be accompanied by a patronising pat on the head. Oxford FC are a professional football club but they talk about their players like they’re milkmen during the day.

It’s all so disingenuous.
SC, Belfast


The last word
Can this Liverpool v Wolves farce stop now? How is it still dominating the mailbox? It is so ridiculous I even went to watch the highlights of the match to see how controversial the calls were. Salah was offside, the Wolves winner that should have in fact made it 3-1 was not offside. Case closed. But if it stops you taking a look in the mirror and explain how the bestest premier league side ever has turned into a steaming pile of shit then please keep your heads in the sand.
Jon, Cape Town