FA Cup

Guardiola rejects clean sweep talk

Pep Guardiola reacted angrily to suggestions Manchester City could win four trophies in his first season in charge of the Premier League side.

City have swept all before them in the opening eight games of Guardiola’s reign at the Etihad Stadium, scoring 25 goals and conceding just four in all competitions.

As a result they sit top of the league table and have begun their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach, leading some to tip them for a quadruple this season.

Guardiola has rejected those claims, however, and insists his sole focus is on making the City fans happy with the style of play his team are playing.

Speaking ahead of their EFL Cup tie with Swansea City on Wednesday, he said: “What the f***! 

“Manchester City arrived once in their lives in the semi-finals in the Champions League, so when people believe we are going to win the Champions League because I am a real good coach – I don’t think so guys. 

“My happiness does not depend on whether the win all of the titles or not. My target now is to be happy today, drink a little wine and tomorrow prepare the game and of course we are going to try to win our League Cup game. 

“There is no doubt about that. And after we are going to see.

“So my question is: are the people who came to the Etihad Stadium today [Saturday] really enjoying it? Yes? Well, that is enough. To win titles or not, we will see.”

Sun 18 September, 2016
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FA Cup to trial fourth substitute

England’s Football Association has announced the trial use of a fourth substitute in the 2016-17 FA Cup.

Under the proposal, teams will be entitled to make a fourth replacement during extra time of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

IFAB, world football’s law-making body, is conducting a global study into the suitability of changing regulations that state that only three substitutions can be made.

The Copa America Centenario finals in the United States saw the same proposal trialled for the first time.

“It is important the FA continues to look at how it can further add to the drama and spectacle of a competition loved by millions around the world,” FA chief executive Martin Glenn told the organisation’s official website.

“With the cup now adopting a straight knockout format from the quarter finals onwards, the introduction of a fourth substitute in extra-time will bring extra intrigue and interest.

“Also, from a technical point of view, it will be interesting to see how managers use the chance to make an additional substitution in such high-profile games and the impact it has on the final result.  

“Player welfare and being mindful of the number of games people play at the elite level has also been a consideration.”

Wed 27 July, 2016
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Herrera not surprised by Van Gaal sacking

Ander Herrera was not surprised to see Louis van Gaal depart Manchester United but said he was grateful to the Dutchman for signing him.

Herrera has played over 70 games for United since signing ahead of Van Gaal’s first season, but will now have to impress new manager Jose Mourinho, who was confirmed as the club’s new boss after the Dutchman was sacked following United’s FA Cup win over Crystal Palace.

The Spaniard admitted the players were fully aware of the speculation surrounding Van Gaal in his final months, as the club completed a difficult campaign in which they finished fifth.

“It wasn’t a comfortable time, but we are professionals, and so we didn’t allow it to distract us,” Herrera told Marca.

“I must say that the coach remained strong throughout.

“He never showed signs of surrender and, in the end, we won the FA Cup.

“Van Gaal is an honest guy and has always put Manchester United above all else.”

When the axe fell on the Dutchman, Herrera said few were surprised.

“Nothing surprises you in football today,” he continued.

“United have to fight for every title and, when they lose that fight, this is one of the outcomes.

“In many ways I think he has done a good job.

“I’m grateful to him because he signed me and so gave me the opportunity to play more than 70 games, in two years, at arguably the world’s largest club.”

But while the midfielder was happy to have worked under Van Gaal, he was looking forward to the challenge of impressing Mourinho as he adds to his impressive list of coaches.

“I’ve had great coaches: Marcelino, with whom I made my debut; [Javier] Aguirre, [Marcelo] Bielsa [and Ernesto] Valverde; who taught me how to handle the locker room and is a fantastic guy,” Herrera said.

“Then came Van Gaal and ‘Mou’ now, who is the most successful coach, alongside Pep Guardiola.

“He has won the league in four countries, the Champions League with Inter and Porto and led Chelsea to become champions twice.

“So for me this is a unique opportunity that will push me the maximum.”

Wed 1 June, 2016
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Hodgson praises scrapped cup replays

England manager Roy Hodgson praised the decision to scrap FA Cup replays from the quarter-finals onwards as the first step towards a winter break.

Top-flight English clubs are still competing through a hectic festive period while many others, including the Bundesliga, enjoy time off.

The FA announced on Thursday replays would no longer be played in the FA Cup from the last eight onwards.

That decision was applauded by Hodgson, who said it was a step in the right direction.

“It is done to maybe provide that elusive winter break. The break is nothing other than wanting to freshen our minds up,” he said.

“There is no doubt that it is a very positive move, because those replays have often been one of the stumbling blocks to people suggesting we can’t have a break.”

Hodgson praised the Premier League and FA over their discussions for a potential break, saying replays had for so long been the problem.

“There’s been no doubt that one of the stumbling blocks has often been ‘hold on, you have all of these replays and you’re asking us to cut our season down’,” he said.

Hodgson and England are preparing for friendlies against Australia and Portugal ahead of Euro 2016.

Thu 26 May, 2016
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FA Cup quarter-final replays scrapped

The FA Cup will not have replays from the quarter-final onwards next season as part of renewed attempts to streamline the competition.

In a statement from the FA announcing the move on Thursday, it was claimed the new format will “add to the drama and impact the competition has enjoyed in recent seasons”.

The status of the competition has diminished in recent years with teams regularly fielding weakened teams due to fixture congestion.

And the FA is confident trimming the number of matches will see an upsurge in interest and prove benficial to “the wider game in general”.

“As part of the ongoing review into the FA Cup, a sudden-death format for the quarter-final stage has today been approved by The FA Board and will be introduced in March 2017,” the statement read.

“The revamped competition will see eight clubs battle it out over one weekend with each tie to be played to a finish on the day, adding to the drama and impact the competition has enjoyed in recent years.

“Other new initiatives will be explored to ensure The FA Cup retains its status and appeal. These plans also form part of The FA’s commitment to help ease English football’s congested fixture schedule.”

FA chief executive Martin Glenn added: “The FA Cup remains at the heart of English football and this change adds to the excitement of the competition and will benefit the wider game in general.

“With great attendances and TV figures across the BBC and BT Sport, this season has confirmed the Cup’s special status – underlined by great stories culminating in Manchester United’s triumph at Wembley last Saturday.

“In a demanding calendar and with increased pressures on fans, it is important we move with the times and consider new innovations such as last week’s successful Non-League Finals Day which saw 50,000 fans at Wembley for the Vase and Trophy.

“While fully respecting tradition and history, this new development will help the Cup retain its status as a much-loved and world-renowned competition.”

Thu 26 May, 2016
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Van Gaal should call time on career after Manchester United sacking

The concerned wife, children and grandchildren who Louis van Gaal cited in a February outburst against the press can rest easy. Surely now, his race is run.

Since his all-conquering Ajax team sprung a surprise to beat AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final, Van Gaal has been a towering figure in European football.

It will undoubtedly rankle with the fiercely ambitious 64-year-old that, having scooped a total of six domestic league titles across spells at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, his most notable achievements at Manchester United were a fourth-place Premier League finish to prompt a failed Champions League campaign and a solitary FA Cup triumph.

Van Gaal’s stated intention that United would be his last job could be overridden by pride. Riding off into the sunset at the end of his contract in 2017 would have felt vastly different to this.

The Dutchman has been unceremoniously dumped just two days after winning the FA Cup against Crystal Palace at Wembley, even if he lasted longer than many predicted by surviving a tumultuous festive period when his sacking seemed imminent.

In February, he bemoaned: “The last two months have been very difficult for my wife, my kids, my grandchildren and my friends to cope with. For me too, but I can cope.”


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After few hours to let the dust settle.. I thought I would write a few words on (Louis Van Gaal (LVG) His unwavering…

Posted by Rio Ferdinand on Monday, 23 May 2016

How he copes will be interesting. Does he quit, or give it one more shot elsewhere?

One possibility to appeal to the romantics is a return to Ajax. Second spells at Barcelona and with the Dutch national team show Van Gaal has no aversion to going back.

Frank de Boer, a star man on the field during Van Gaal’s time with the Amsterdam giants, has left to seek new challenges elsewhere in Europe. But, since a fresh-faced Patrick Kluivert sunk Milan at Vienna’s Ernst-Happel-Stadion, circumstances have changed beyond recognition for all concerned.

Ajax no longer dine at European football’s top table. This season, they returned to the Austrian capital only to be knocked out of the Champions League before the group stage by Rapid Vienna. The irresistible swagger of Johan Cruyff and his fellow 1970s greats will find no heirs in the current crop.

Van Gaal was a man steeped in that tradition of ‘Total Football’ tweaked for modern demands, as the likes of Jari Litmanen, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars and the De Boer twins led Ajax to the top of the game once more.

The spectacle of such a manager being implored to “attack, attack, attack” by the Old Trafford faithful two decades on is incredible, but time and experience have changed Van Gaal.

Failure in his first spell with Netherlands and second time around at Barcelona left the esteemed coach on the scrap head, by common consensus finished as a man who might fill the top jobs.

In 2005, he went back to AZ – the club where he concluded his playing days – and created what he would term his “little masterpiece”.

Unheralded AZ were shaped into a ruthless, counter-attacking machine, culminating in a 2008-09 Eredivisie triumph. It arguably stands as Van Gaal’s crowning achievement and paved the way for him to take the reins at Bayern.

However, his pretensions towards Total Football were gone at precisely the time when modern football and, perhaps more importantly, wealthy and influential club owners were falling in love with Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka revolution at Barcelona – the game’s latest defining statement of artistry.

Van Gaal the pragmatist took Bayern to the Bundesliga crown, a Champions League final and Netherlands to within a penalty shootout of the 2014 World Cup final.

By then, bravado brimming, he was Old Trafford-bound but navigating the uncertain landscape of the post-Alex Ferguson years proved a step too far for Van Gaal version 2.0.

Where AZ were imprinted with a clear identity, United have been muddled tactically and their manager’s confrontational style has come to look increasingly dated.

“That is not my cup of tea how he always tries to fight with the press,” said De Boer earlier this year. His generation does things differently.

At the end of a season when Jose Mourinho’s me-against-the-world act contributed to his demise at Chelsea, Van Gaal has gone the same way. Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp sung “Happy Birthday” to Liverpool’s press officer.

In his advancing years, the departed Manchester United manager needs a reboot in terms of tactics and presentation. That he managed one against-the-odds reinvention is to his immense credit.

But now is the time to walk away.

Mon 23 May, 2016
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Herrera wants more trophies with Manchester United

Ander Herrera is confident Manchester United can win more silverware in the years to come after their FA Cup win over Crystal Palace.

United beat Palace 2-1 after extra time courtesy of a Jesse Lingard strike, though it appears not enough to keep Louis van Gaal in the manager’s seat at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho is widely expected to replace Van Gaal, with a host of star names such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale linked to follow the former Chelsea manager.

Herrera believes that United will be better placed for future title wins having secured a crucial Wembley win on Saturday.

“I think we can build from it. When you want to create a fantastic team everything is easier when you do it from a trophy,” Herrera told the official United website.

“This is the best achievement of my career so far and hopefully I can help the team win more. We always believe we can win trophies. Even in the transition moments or not the best moments for the club, United can always win a trophy. 

“Normally at other clubs when this happens you can’t win things, but United are a special club and we can do it. 

“We are creating a very good team with a mix of young and experienced players. I am a team player and I can learn a lot from everyone and, as I said before, when you win a trophy everything is easier because you can build from that and the confidence is bigger.”

Mon 23 May, 2016
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Van Gaal arrives at United training ground amid Mourinho talk

Louis van Gaal has arrived at Manchester United’s training ground amid growing speculation that he will be replaced as manager by Jose Mourinho.

The 64-year-old drove to the AON Training Complex shortly before 0900GMT, two days on from winning the FA Cup – the first trophy of his time at Old Trafford.

The build-up to Saturday’s final was overshadowed by reports that United had reached an agreement to appoint Mourinho and would make the announcement immediately after the match.

No such statement was given following United’s 2-1 defeat of Crystal Palace after extra-time, and the former Netherlands boss admitted that he still hoped to see out the final season of his three-year contract.

However, Van Gaal was heard telling a journalist “it’s over” as he left the team hotel on Sunday, though it was later claimed that he was simply referring to United’s season.

United have long been reported to be considering appointing Mourinho due to inconsistent results and uninspiring performances under Van Gaal, and a failure to qualify for the Champions League saw speculation intensify.

Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea in December and has been out of work ever since, despite persistent speculation linking him with United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 53-year-old was in London on Saturday to watch former world heavyweight champion David Haye’s win over Arnold Gjergjaj at the O2 Arena.

Mon 23 May, 2016
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Smalling admits relief after Lingard winner

Chris Smalling was relieved to see Jesse Lingard’s extra-time FA Cup final winner burst the back of the net after the Manchester United defender was sent off during the 2-1 win.

Smalling was booked twice, the second for a rugby tackle on Yannick Bolasie, in Saturday’s final and left United with 10 men for the second half of extra time, but they still prevailed s as Lingard rifled home the winner with a superb volley.

The goal spared the England international’s blushes after his brain snap left United short in defence.

“The feeling is one of relief,” said Smalling. “You just have to learn that you can’t always go and win that ball and there are certain moments to do it.

“Luckily I wasn’t punished, because Jesse popped up with a great goal, but I thought it was a well-deserved win because we created a lot of chances.”

Smalling – who has acted as stand-in captain for United throughout the season – was delighted to see the cup won off the back of a youngster’s effort, with the likes of Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford having played such key roles in the squad this term.

“We’ve looked to a lot of the young players to turn up this season and quite often they have in those big games,” said Smalling.

“I’m buzzing for Jesse because it was a great strike worthy of winning any game.

“I think it helps when there’s a number of young players and you’re not the only one, then you might be a little overawed.

“So it’s a positive feeling going forward. We’re not an old team, so that gives us a chance.

“There’s so many young ones getting a chance and picking up their first trophy, it’s going to give them great belief going into next season.

“When you go into next season you have the experience of winning something fresh in your memory and that’s what we need to really build on and make sure next season we finish winning something.

“It’s about silverware and this club is used to winning it year on year, so it was quite a drought for a club of our size. Hopefully this stands us in good stead for next year.”

Mon 23 May, 2016
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Rooney hopes FA Cup lifts United – with or without Van Gaal

Captain Wayne Rooney said Manchester United’s FA Cup triumph on Saturday will lift the whole club, regardless of whether manager Louis van Gaal stays or not.

Van Gaal’s first piece of silverware at United may not be enough to keep him in the job for the third and final year of his contract, with reports suggesting he will be replaced by former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho in the coming days.

United won the FA Cup 2-1 after extra time against Crystal Palace, courtesy of Jesse Lingard’s superb winner.

“It is an important moment for the football club,” Rooney said.

“Since Sir Alex hasn’t been here we haven’t won a trophy and we have a fairly new squad who haven’t won much together. It could be a really important moment for us.

“Hopefully the young lads who have their hands on their first trophy – Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial – can feel what I felt when I won mine, which was a lot of determination and desire to win more. Hopefully they get that, it can be a major factor for us.”

Rooney would not be drawn in on the speculation surrounding Van Gaal but said the team had to improve after falling below the agreed standards at the club, regardless of who was in charge next season.

“There has to be an improvement next season. Certainly in the Premier League [United finished fifth] it wasn’t good enough, we dropped too many points,” Rooney said.

“We wanted to finish at least in the Champions League places and we haven’t.

“You have to set yourself standards and we fell below them this season. You have to make sure as players we get back to those standards and we start challenging for the main trophies.

“I said after the Bournemouth game we finished where we deserved to finish so we have to improve on that, we know that. And hopefully we will.”

Sun 22 May, 2016
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De Gea dedicates FA Cup win to United fans

David De Gea dedicated Manchester United’s FA Cup triumph on Saturday to their supporters.

United fell behind to Jason Puncheon’s strike in the 78th minute, but a speedy response from Juan Mata forced extra time at Wembley.

Louis van Gaal’s team lost Chris Smalling to a second bookable offence before Jesse Lingard’s thunderous strike secured the trophy 10 minutes from time.

De Gea was proud to help United win the FA Cup for the first time since 2004, insisting the victory was for the fans.

“[It was tough] with 10 players and with difficult moments, but we fought until the end and we never surrendered,” De Gea told MUTV.

“We are Manchester United, we are one of the best clubs in the world and we have won the FA Cup for all the fans.

“Jesse scored a great goal and it was even more special with 10 men. We are really, really happy to win the FA Cup.

“It’s a long time since the club has won this cup and it is a really good moment to enjoy. The FA Cup is back in Manchester.”

Sun 22 May, 2016
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Mourinho non-committal on United speculation

Jose Mourinho refused to comment on growing speculation he is set to replace FA Cup-winning manager Louis van Gaal at Manchester United.

Shortly after United defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 at the end of extra time on Saturday, reports immediately emerged that the Manchester club are set to confirm Mourinho as their manager for next season.

As fans went into a frenzy in wake of United’s Wembley triumph, Mourinho remained calm as he watched veteran boxer David Haye in action at O2 Arena in London.

Mourinho was pressed on the reports as he left the fight and while he was non-committal, the former Chelsea boss did congratulate Van Gaal and Co.

“Many congratulations,” Mourinho told Sky Sports after refusing to respond to speculation on his future.

Mourinho has been out of work since December, having parted ways with Chelsea following a horrendous Premier League title defence.

The 51-year-old Portuguese left Stamford Bridge seven months after lifting the trophy, following a ninth defeat of the season and just 15 points from Chelsea’s opening 16 league matches.

Sun 22 May, 2016
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Pardew: Forgive me for my dance

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew said he was just enjoying the moment after causing a stir with his dancing to celebrate Jason Puncheon’s opener in the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

United emerged triumphant 2-1 after extra time on Saturday but Pardew provided a moment that will live long in the memory of fans far and wide.

In a scene more suited to a nightclub, Pardew showed off his dance moves with a little jig on the sidelines as Puncheon gave Palace a 78th-minute lead in London.

“I enjoyed that moment! In a Cup final and as a manager it’s difficult to enjoy moments,” Pardew told reporters afterwards.

“If you forgive me for my dance, it’s just because I enjoyed it.”

United, though, had the last laugh as Juan Mata equalised three minutes later before substitute Jesse Lingard sealed the victory with a 110th-minute thunderbolt.

Sun 22 May, 2016
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Pardew questions Clattenburg calls

Alan Pardew felt referee Mark Clattenburg made two key errors that contributed to Crystal Palace’s extra-time defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

Palace went ahead through substitute Jason Puncheon, but Juan Mata equalised almost immediately before Jesse Lingard won it for United in the 110th minute.

Pardew felt the outcome could have been different had Clattenburg allowed play to go on when Chris Smalling brought down Connor Wickham in the first half – the former Sunderland man ran on to slot the ball past David de Gea – and also questioned the official’s decision not to award a penalty when Wayne Rooney tangled with Wilfried Zaha inside the area.

He told BT Sport: “The guys couldn’t have given me any more. It was a magnificent performance all round, it just wasn’t meant to be.

“He [Lingard] has come up with an unbelievable moment to win it.

“But Mark makes a mistake for the Connor one, you could see where I was that Connor was going to get up first. That was definitely a big mistake and I thought we should have had a penalty as Rooney doesn’t play the ball.

“We aren’t going to bleat about it though.”

Pardew opted to leave Puncheon on the bench, but praised the midfielder’s impact when he did make it on to the field.

He added: “It was a great goal, he was determined to show me that he should have started, that’s a good trait to have.

“He was brilliant when he came on, as they all were.

“We gave an unbelievable account of ourselves without winning it and that’s how it is sometimes. I am proud of what they gave me.”

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Van Gaal: I hope to see you next season

Louis van Gaal hinted at his desire to stay on as Manchester United manager after adding to his impressive CV with a 2-1 FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace at Wembley.

The Dutchman oversaw United’s first triumph in the competition since 2004 as Jesse Lingard scored a stunning extra-time winner amid growing rumours that Jose Mourinho is set to take charge at Old Trafford.

But a defiant Van Gaal – who saw Chris Smalling dismissed before substitute Lingard’s intervention – expressed his hope to remain after building on the tally of honours he had already claimed in Netherlands, Spain and Germany

Asked by BT Sport if he will be back next season, he said: “I hope to see you.”

The 64-year-old added: “I want to win things, titles. I have won everywhere I have worked so I don’t have to prove myself. When they want to use my knowledge and my management, then I shall continue because we have proved again that we have a title.

“Even in the time of Alex Ferguson, he did not win every title.”

Questioned if he feared glory was slipping from his grasp when Smalling picked up a second yellow just before the end of the first half of extra time, Van Gaal said: “Of course, because with 10 players and we have played Tuesday evening [against AFC Bournemouth] also, but we have deserved it I think.”

Match-winner Lingard, only introduced in the last minute of normal time for fellow goalscorer Juan Mata, added to BBC Sport regarding his goal: “I saw it come across and it landed nicely for me, all I had to do was hit it sweet and luckily I did that.

“As a sub you always have to be ready. Thankfully I was.”

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Rooney revels in ´special moment´ of ending FA Cup wait

Wayne Rooney led Manchester United to FA Cup glory at Wembley and was delighted to ease the pain of two previous final defeats.

A stunning extra-time winner from substitute Jesse Lingard handed United a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace after Juan Mata had cancelled out Jason Puncheon’s opener on Saturday.

The result was secured despite Chris Smalling’s dismissal before the end of the first additional period, with United winning the competition for the first time since 2004 to give boss Louis van Gaal silverware in what could prove to be his last game in charge.

“Credit to Crystal Palace, they’ve had a tough end to the season, but we worked really hard and our determination has got us through,” Rooney told BBC Sport.

“I’m delighted. It’s a special moment. It’s a competition I have loved watching as a fan growing up. I’ve been to two finals and lost, so I will enjoy it for sure. 

“Look at the fans, winning trophies lifts football clubs. The fans have had a tough two years, but hopefully they will enjoy.”

Goalscorer Mata added: “It’s been a tough season, but we finish with good news for the fans.

“It was a great goal from Jesse. It is a day to enjoy, especially for the fans as they have had a difficult year.”

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Rashford limps out of FA Cup final

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford limped out of Saturday’s FA Cup final, putting his Euro 2016 place in doubt.

Rashford was a threatening presence in United’s attack but was replaced by Ashley Young after 72 minutes of the Wembley showpiece after appearing to hurt his right knee in a clash with Yohan Cabaye.

The 18-year-old was a shock selection in Roy Hodgson’s preliminary 26-man squad for Euro 2016, chosen ahead of the likes of Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll.

Rashford has scored five goals in 11 Premier League games after making his debut in a Europa League match against FC Midtjylland.

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Manchester United 4/5 to win against Crystal Palace in this evening’s FA Cup final

soccernews fooball-betting-tips pic

Competition: FA Cup
Market: Man Utd to win against Crystal Palace
Odds: 4/5 @ Coral

Crystal Palace and Manchester United meet at Wembley tonight for the FA Cup final. United are favourites given they’ve picked up four points in their two league meetings with Palace, as well as how well they ended the season compared to their opponents.

Underdogs Palace bested a tough run of Premier League opposition to make it to the FA Cup final this season, beating Southampton, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Championship side Reading, and Watford. They are no slouches, but have such a poor record against Manchester United over the years that a win seems unlikely today.

United are enjoyed much better form in 2016, boasting three wins from their last five league games, while having beaten West Ham United and Everton to make it this far. Louis van Gaal’s men have a dominant head-to-head record over Crystal Palace too, and are desperate to end their 12-year wait for an FA Cup trophy.

It will be a tight game due to nerves and emphasis being placed on nullifying the opposition, but Coral are giving odds of 4/5 for Manchester United to win against Crystal Palace in 90 minutes tonight.

Bet: Manchester United to win against Crystal Palace in this evening’s FA Cup final @ 4/5 with Coral >>

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Cantona: Martial has shades of Ronaldo

Manchester United great Eric Cantona gave a glowing review of fellow Frenchman Anthony Martial, comparing him to former Brazil international Ronaldo.

Martial’s arrival at Old Trafford left many scratching their heads, particularly as the club paid £36million to acquire the France international, but he has proven a decent investment – even at that inflated price – with 17 goals and 11 assists in his debut campaign ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final clash with Crystal Palace.

The 20-year-old announced his arrival at Old Trafford with a stunning solo goal against Liverpool which proved to be the sealer in a 3-1 triumph, and he has not stopped since.

His incredible pace, skill in tight areas and nose for goal has drawn comparisons with Ronaldo, and Cantona says Martial is worthy of the praise.

“He’s very mature for his age. I think he’s the same kind of player as Ronaldo. Of course Ronaldo is a Brazilian, but he’s as strong as him. Martial is skilful, he wants to score goals and he has good vision,” he told MUTV.

Cantona said his compatriot had arrived at the perfect club to nurture his talent, just as United did for another Ronaldo.

“At Manchester, it’s a great club for young players when you are in the academy and also when you are 18, 19 or 20-years-old. [At that age] you need to go and play for a great team and also you need to work with people who will help you because you’re still a young player, just as [Cristiano] Ronaldo, the Portuguese Ronaldo, did when he came to play for United and for [Alex] Ferguson.

“He had the opportunity to win trophies but also Ferguson helped him to be the player he is today.

“And I think he [Martial] has been very clever to choose Manchester United.”

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Pardew: Unlike 1990, United are beatable

Alan Pardew revealed not even he thought Crystal Palace could beat Manchester United when he lined up in the old Wembley tunnel to face the English giants in 1990.

But heading into the 2016 showpiece match on Saturday as manager of Palace, he feels United no longer have the same aura of invincibility and is convinced his side can win.

“Our fans want to go to Wembley and win. We want to win. We are not going there to be runners-up,” he said.

“As a player in 1990, I thought, ‘Oh, we might win this’. But, if I am honest, I didn’t think we could win.

“But today, if it all goes our way, I actually think we can win. And this group of Palace players think they can win, too. My team is in a good place right now.

“This group of players have an opportunity to create something permanent – a first major trophy for Crystal Palace.

“It would be good for the club and history for us to win something.

“There’s a great camaraderie within the 1990 group. We are all very close friends. That season bonded us.

“But I would have preferred those 1990 friendships to have carried through as winners. And that’s the message I’ll give to my players now.”

Like Alex Ferguson ahead of the 1990 final, Louis van Gaal is feeling the heat in the Old Trafford hot seat, particularly after a fifth-placed Premier League finish with United this season.

Reports suggest not even a win could save Pardew’s opposite number, while a Palace win would surely end Van Gaal’s reign at the club.

Pardew admitted some sympathy for Van Gaal, but hopes his team can win the trophy.

“Louis is feeling that pressure now but he’s big enough to deal with it,” said Pardew.

“I admire his resilience. I hope his team turn up and play well for him – but more importantly I hope we win.”

Sat 21 May, 2016
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Goalscoring is what I do – Martial

When Anthony Martial made his shock £36million move from Monaco to Manchester United, he was not a household name in European football.

Even United captain Wayne Rooney admitted had to look up Martial on Google, so little did he know about the Frenchman.

“Well, he knows me now, doesn’t he?” said Martial ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.

“I’ve heard that story. I guess it’s pretty amusing.”

After 17 goals and 11 assists an all competitions – a fair share of those match-winners – Rooney is not the only one who is now acutely aware of Martial’s prowess.

The 20-year-old finished the club’s top scorer after plenty of eyebrows were raised at the hefty sum United paid for his services.

And while 17 goals is a modest figure next to those put up by the likes of former United star Cristiano Ronaldo, Martial insists there is a lot more to come even if he does not always look too bothered when he scores.

“Goalscoring is what I do,” Martial said.

“It’s the thing that makes me most happy. I’m really happy inside but I’m just not the sort of guy who shows that on the outside too much. But not happy when I score? Scoring makes me happiest because it’s what it’s all about.”

While Martial’s season has been brilliant on a personal note, it has been soured by the team’s overall performance.

A group-stage exit from the Champions League and a fifth-place finish in the Premier League means United will not be in the world’s premier club competition next season.

But Martial insists he is happy in Manchester despite that and wants to stay at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future.

“I love Manchester, I love being here and certainly I see myself being here for a good while yet,” the France international said.

“Obviously the future’s a good while ahead yet, but I’m certainly happy here.

“You never know what happens in the future, but the fans have really accepted me really well. They’ve been happy with me and I think the fact they sing a song about me all the time shows they’re quite happy with me. I just do my best to try and pay back that support.”

“I’ve got a special relationship with the fans and I’m grateful because they’ve always been there for me and I’m thankful for that.”

Fri 20 May, 2016
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Prediction: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Verdict: Man Utd

Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

A replay of the 1990 FA Cup final will see Manchester United make effort to end a 12-year wait for a triumph in the competition as Louis van Gaal attempts to claim his first trophy as Manchester United manager.

Crystal Palace

Palace are heading into the FA Cup final as underdogs, aware of the challenge that lies ahead. However, Alan Pardew’s men have been on a roll within this competition, having already dispatched the likes of Southampton, Stoke City, Tottenham, Reading and Watford to earn their place in the finals and it is fair to say that Palace will enter the showpiece match feeling motivated to continue the momentum. With the Premier League spot safe and sound, Crystal Palace will have to overcome the recent dip in form which sae them fail to win any on their last five matches at home, while they have also been beaten 4-1 by Southampton in the final day of the season. This campaign’s disappointment has been put in the shadow of the FA Cup success and Alan Pardew really has a chance to make amends for a truly disappointing season. The forthcoming match will provide Crystal Palace manager with a personal vendetta of sort as he was part of that Palace team that lost to Manchester United in the 1990 FA Cup final.

Team News

Return of Bacary Sako will be a timely boost for Crystal Palace, while Wilfried Zaha is in line to make a start against his former employers.

Emmanuel Adebayor is expected to lead the line in attack in what is possibly his last appearance for Crystal Palace. Joe Ledley is out of contention and he will be the only one Pardew will not be able to count on.

Manchester United

Red Devils have seen their improved run of form towards the end of the Premier League season go to waste as the team’s bravery counted for nothing with Manchester City still finishing in fourth place leaving Manchester United out of the Champions League once again. Louis van Gaal has had an erratic time at Manchester United helm as he was criticised and praised at the same time for his tactics and for the introduction of young talents from the club’s academy, respectively. Msrcus Rashford has been the most outstanding example of Van Gaal’s youth policy as the 18-year-old striker made it all the way up to England call-up. The FA Cup final could very well be his last match as Man Utd boss as the Dutchman is widely tipped to leave the post this summer. Jose Mourinho is being mentioned as his successor, but Van Gaal refuses to talk about his future at the club and is concentrated on making a result at Wembley. The upcoming match will be Manchester United’s first FA Cup final appearance since 2007which only adds up to the importance of the game.

Team News

Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian have shook off their injuries and will be in contention for the weekend’s game.

Marouanre Fellaini is also available having served his three-game ban, while Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger remain the only two players unavailable for Red Devils.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Man Utd have last won the FA Cup in 1990
  • Crystal Palace have lost ther last three matches at Wembley
  • Pardew’s side failed to win any of their last 4 fixtures
  • Red Devils so far took part in 18 FA Cup finals
  • Van Gaal could win his 1st trophy as Man Utd manager


The FA Cup derby will be a game with plenty of history behind it as it will be a repeat from Manchester United’s last victory in the competition. Red Devils have seen their form go up towards the end of the Premier League season, but their morale could have been affected by missing out on the Champions League spot. Both teams are looking to end their season on a high and lift the trophy which would help them make amends for a disappointing season.

Verdict: Man Utd

Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

Fri 20 May, 2016
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Blind: Manchester United must seize FA Cup opportunity

Daley Blind says Manchester United will do everything they can to beat Crystal Palace in Saturday’s FA Cup final as they look to end the season on a high.

United last won the FA Cup in 2004 and Blind is adamant they cannot afford to miss out on an opportunity to add more silverware to their trophy cabinet after another largely underwhelming campaign under Louis van Gaal.

“If you play for a club like United, you want to play at the highest level, challenge for trophies and win trophies,” Blind told United’s official website.

“It’s something we can win and we will fight for it. It’s close to our hands and now we have to grab it.

“You see how happy we were and how we celebrated with the fans after the goal from Anthony [Martial] against Everton in the semi-final.

“It was an amazing feeling to have a moment like that with the crowd that I never had before with the fans so close. It was very special. There are no words needed, the pictures say it all.

“You can never underestimate a team in a final, especially an FA Cup final, anything can happen. So we have to make sure we are on top form and at our best and prepare well to win the game.”

Fri 20 May, 2016
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Fellaini: I am not a dirty player

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is adamant he is not a dirty player and has stressed he has never injured a player.

The Belgium international has made the headlines for the wrong reasons on more than one occasion in 2015-16, escaping punishment after seemingly elbowing Emre Can and Roberto Firmino in the Europa League tie with Liverpool, before eventually receiving a three-game ban for the same offence toward Robert Huth in the Premier League match versus with Leicester City. 

Fellaini is available to return for United for this Saturday’s FA Cup final with Crystal Palace having netted in the quarter-final replay with West Ham and the semi-final victory over Everton.

And Fellaini has made it clear he never has the intention to hurt an opponent, putting his actions down to his impulsive character.

“Everyone has their opinion. If I had to listen to all the opinions about me, my head would explode,” Fellaini told The Daily Mirror.

“So I just focus on my job, the manager, my team-mates, the club.

“I know when I do bad and good. I’m not a dirty player. People can think whatever they want. I never injured a player. Never.

“I just react. Maybe sometimes I am impulsive, I say that. It’s my character. But when someone pulls your hair, it’s normal to react. For this situation I don’t deserve to be punished. Huth grabbed my hair, he made pain on my neck, so I just react.”

Fri 20 May, 2016
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Pardew: Ferguson still sees Zaha as United calibre

Alan Pardew said Wilfried Zaha would still be considered a Manchester United player under former manager Alex Ferguson and has predicted the pacey winger to haunt his former club at Wembley in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Zaha was signed by Ferguson before his shock retirement in 2013 when he left United as Premier League champions, so the Englishman never had the chance to impress the Scottish great.

Instead, he started his first season at United under David Moyes but was promptly loaned back to Palace, before the move was made permanent upon Louis van Gaal’s arrival in 2014.

“I know that Sir Alex Ferguson still feels he should be a United player,” Pardew said.

“Wilf can run fast all day, he can beat players for fun, and he has a great physique. There’s a lot going on there. Probably still unfinished talent in my opinion.

“Sometimes he still wanders around in training a little bit and I have to kick him up the bum or throw something at him. But you have to understand this guy is 23 and some players take longer to progress.

“But there is no problem with Wilf now. I think his personality traits have improved around the group.

“And that comes from us leaning on him, both myself and some of the senior players.”

Fri 20 May, 2016
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Scholes: United have to perform at Wembley

Manchester United great Paul Scholes has warned his former club not to take Saturday’s FA Cup final for granted.

United are favourites for Saturday’s Wembley clash against Crystal Palace, but Scholes said the players still have to go out and get the job done as the club looks to end its FA Cup drought.

“I think people are probably assuming United are going to win it but it’s going to be a tough game,” Scholes, who won three FA Cups with United, told the Manchester Evening News.

“Crystal Palace are a decent side and I think they can cause any teams problems, so I think it will be tight.”

Once the record holders for most FA Cup wins, United have slipped behind Arsenal and have not won the fabled competition since 2004, reaching just two finals in the 12 years since.

United can join Arsenal on 12 FA Cup triumphs should they win on Saturday and put some gloss on another underwhelming season at Old Trafford.

“It [the drought] has been disappointing as we obviously want to be in the FA Cup final as it’s a big day,” he said.

“It’s long overdue but I also think it hasn’t really been a priority. We all know it’s a massive major competition but was it the priority over the Champions League or the Premier League?

“We always seem to go after those two which you can probably understand and a lot of the times we would go out of the FA Cup as our team was missing players that would needed to be rested for the big Champions League and Premier League games.”

Thu 19 May, 2016
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Crystal Palace v Manchester United: FA Cup glory all that matters for under-fire Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal will settle for a scrappy victory over “beautiful goals” as he aims to win a first trophy with Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

A failure to qualify for the Champions League and a number of uninspiring displays from his side have seen Van Gaal’s position come under increasing scrutiny this season, with numerous reports claiming United are lining up Jose Mourinho as a replacement.

The axe seems almost certain to fall if United fail to end a three-year wait for major silverware – and a 12-year stretch without winning the FA Cup – against Crystal Palace at Wembley.

And Van Gaal seems happy to stick to his oft-criticised tactics in order to ensure a win that could see him stay in the job heading into next season.

“To impress and perform well depends on a lot of factors,” he said. “You need two attacking sides and then you get a fantastic match.

“Of course, our starting point is to perform well, to score beautiful goals, but a 1-0 win is enough because winning is the most important thing in the final. When you lose, you have nothing.”

Van Gaal is wary of the speed of the Palace attack – which includes former United winger Wilfried Zaha – and suggested he could recall Marouane Fellaini to deal with their set-piece threat.

Fellaini missed United’s last three league games through suspension but scored in both the quarter-final replay win at West Ham and the semi-final victory over Everton.

“You have to wait and see the line-up. I can’t answer that now,” he said when asked about the Belgium international’s return. “They have scored 29 goals out of set plays – more than 50 per cent. That’s more than we’ve done. They have a lot of speed in attack, on the counter, so it shall be very difficult.”

Palace’s record against United does not make for encouraging reading for the London club. They have lost 15 of their last 20 meetings in all competitions and were beaten 1-0 when the 1990 final – their first ever – went to a replay.

Manager Alan Pardew played in both of those finals but, rather than focus on vengeance, the 54-year-old is eager for his players to express their “street football” and out-fight their opponents.

“There’s no revenge. This is about this team getting to a cup final and winning it. We’re not going to drown ourselves in 1990,” he said.

“We play street football, we play a fast game, we have players from all different roots into the professional league: from non-league, from Paris Saint-German, internationals.

“We’re going to have to be patient at times. We are going to be the side which needs to fight that bit harder to win, there’s no doubt about that.”

Van Gaal has passed Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian fit after recent knocks, though there are doubts over Morgan Schneiderlin, who missed the 3-1 win over AFC Bournemouth with illness.

Joe Ledley (broken leg) is out for Palace but Pardew hopes to have Scott Dann, Zaha, Connor Wickham and Yohan Cabaye available after they were rested for the 4-1 loss to Southampton last week.

Key Opta Stats:

– United have reached their first FA Cup final since 2007, and 19th overall (W11 L7). Only Arsenal (12) have won the trophy more times than the Red Devils.
– This will be United’s 14th game at the new Wembley Stadium – no team has played more games there (Chelsea also 14).
– Crystal Palace have won six of their last seven FA Cup ties against fellow Premier League sides (L1).
– Palace have won their last three games at Wembley Stadium, including both games since it was reopened in 2007 (both against Watford).
– Anthony Martial has been directly involved in 25 goals in all competitions this season (17 goals, eight assists); four many than any other Man Utd player.
– Marcus Rashford has scored eight goals from just 14 shots on target for Manchester United in all competitions. Since his first team debut on February 25, no United player has scored as many.

Thu 19 May, 2016
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Pardew confident Palace will end wait for major trophy

Alan Pardew thinks Crystal Palace have every chance of ending their wait for a first major trophy against Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

The closest Palace have come previously was in the same competition in 1990 when Pardew played in both matches as United won a replay 1-0 after a 3-3 draw at the first game at Wembley.

The former Newcastle United manager is aware his team go into the showpiece event as underdogs but feels the pressure will all be on Louis van Gaal’s side.

Pardew added that FA Cup success would feel just as good for Palace as Premier League glory did for shock winners Leicester City.

“I think the pressure is on them all the time – it’s Manchester United, they are iconic,” he said at his pre-match media conference.

“It’s a different history they take to the game. This history we take is the one final we lost, so this group of players have the opportunity to put something permanent there and that’s a first major trophy for Crystal Palace football club.

“I feel the weight we have of not winning something. It’s a club which has a certain DNA and I think it would be good for the DNA of this club to win a trophy.

“One more game, one more Premier League team to beat – and then we win it. I sense my players are in a good place.

“It’s hard to get a winners’ medal at the level we are at, like the Leicester players, winning the FA Cup would mean just as much.”

Pardew is relishing the opportunity to test himself on the big stage.

He continued: “I’m up against the biggest club in the world. I’m looking forward to it, my players are looking forward to it.

“Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini – these are top players in the height of their careers and that’s why they play at Man United.

“But we have got areas of the pitch where we are slightly superior and we have to make those areas count.

“They will dominate possession and we’ll be very, very dangerous when they over commit.”

Asked if he had learned anything from the 1990 defeat or the 2006 final where his West Ham side lost to Liverpool, Pardew replied: “Yeah – not to lose.”

Thu 19 May, 2016
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Van Gaal: FA Cup triumph essential for United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says winning the FA Cup is essential for the club as a whole, and not just for his own future.

Aside from the Community Shield three years ago, United have not won a piece of silverware since Alex Ferguson secured the Premier League title in his final season in charge in 2012-13.

Van Gaal’s position has come under increased scrutiny throughout the campaign, with United missing out on a Champions League place and having drawn heavy criticism for a cautious style of play.

But the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss says beating Crystal Palace in Saturday’s final at Wembley means much more to the players and fans that it does to his chances of keeping his job.

“I think the interest of the club is much more important, and the interest of the fans,” he said on Thursday. “You put your own aims, of course, and that’s one of the aims I’ve always had.

“I think the fans are more concerned about the title than I am because a title for the fans is fantastic and we want to give it. I said that in my speech on the pitch. They were always there, unconditional. They’ve never let us down. They deserve it more than anyone else.

“A club like United needs silverware. We need it and the players need it also. That’s why it’s so convenient when we win. 

“It’s always exciting when you are so close but close is not enough – you have to win it.

“I’ve read that the last FA Cup was 2004 so it’s a long time ago. So for Manchester United, it’s a big title, especially now.

“For me, that’s not the most interesting point. The most interesting point is that we’re able to win something and now we can. But still, you have nothing when you don’t win.

“It’s always important to win silverware. Qualification is not a title – a title is the FA Cup, the championship. For players, it’s very important, because they can hold the cup, and that’s an exciting moment. Especially in England, because the FA Cup is a big title. It’s the most prestigious temple of England.”

Van Gaal believes that away victories against Shrewsbury Town, Derby County and West Ham prior to the 2-1 semi-final win against Everton underline that his side would be worthy winners of the trophy.

“We have played four of the six matches away, so we deserve to win, I think, because when you win away at West Ham United, for instance, it’s fantastic,” he said. “Although Crystal Palace beat Tottenham, so it’s deserved for them to be in the final.”

Van Gaal – who will have Marouane Fellaini back from suspension and Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian fit again – admits it will be tough to leave certain players out of the side but considers the occasion to be a vital learning curve for the youngsters in the squad.

“There are many players there. Fellaini is not suspended, Rojo and Darmian are not injured any more. There are a lot of fit players,” he added. “That’s more difficult for me because now I have to disappoint a lot of players. 

“It’s also why we need matches at this level – it’s an education for young players. You have to win, and you have to cope with that pressure.”

Thu 19 May, 2016
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Adebayor´s future uncertain, says Pardew

Alan Pardew says Crystal Palace are not resigned to losing Emmanuel Adebayor after the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

The 32-year-old striker is out of contract at the end of the season and indicated in the build-up to Saturday’s Wembley showpiece that he expects to leave the club.

However, Pardew insists nothing is decided and is hoping Adebayor’s big-match experience can help Palace make history by winning their first major trophy.

“We will sit down at the end of the year, shake hands and discuss where we go from there,” Pardew said.

“He will have options. There will be numerous offers,but nothing is decided.

“Ade has played for Real Madrid. He understands what it’s like to play in these big finals against the likes of Man United.”

Adebayor has only scored one goal in 15 appearances since signing for Palace, but Pardew is looking beyond his goal return.

The manager continued: “Ade’s been brilliant around this place. The messages and advice he’s given to the players have been great.”

One contract that will be signed is a new long-term deal for Pardew, which he revealed could be done prior to the final.

“I think we are probably going to do it before the game,” he said of his contract, which he previously did not want to sign until Premier League safety had been secured.

Thu 19 May, 2016
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