MANCHESTER, June 29 — The following are talking points from the weekend’s Premier League and FA Cup action:
United’s run disguises need for changes
Manchester United’s late extra-time 2-1 win at Norwich City earned them an FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea but may well have marked the end of the road for some players.
While the club’s unbeaten run in all competitions was extended to 14 games, the performance of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s “squad players” was a reminder that several positions still need upgrading.
The first-choice United side is pushing for a top four place in the Premier League and starting to look like a team that can compete again in the big six.
But there is a big drop off to the second string. The likes of Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Eric Bailly hardly delivered performances that will reassure Solskjaer of his options and showed he needs to freshen up his squad to provide the necessary depth and competition for places.
Disgruntled Dyche has no need to rush
Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s future has been the subject of much speculation in the British media after his recent comments criticising his chairman and board for allowing player contracts to run out and failing to back him with resources in the transfer market.
Dyche’s relationship with chairman Mike Garlick certainly appears strained but the assumption that this means the manager will seek pastures new may be a little premature.
There is no obvious destination for Dyche at the moment and Garlick is unlikely to force the issue and sack his manager who has achieved another solid mid-table season.
Unless Dyche was to decide to take a break and wait for the right job to come along next season, it would not be a surprise if he stays in an unhappy relationship for a while longer.
Court verdict remains biggest issue for city
After easing into the FA Cup semi-finals with a win at Newcastle United yesterday, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was quick to offer a reminder that, despite Liverpool’s success in the Premier League, his side remain on course for a treble of League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League.
But the club still has a two-year Uefa ban from Europe hanging over them and are nervously awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which is due in the next two weeks.
Ings in England contention
Danny Ings scored twice in Southampton’s 3-1 win at Watford yesterday, taking him to 18 Premier League goals for the season, one behind Jamie Vardy.
Before lockdown there were plenty of people banging the drum for Ings to get an international recall but the cancellation of England’s friendlies against Italy and Denmark meant no squad was selected.
The postponement of Euro 2020 soon followed and Ings must have felt his time had gone, with young thrusters such as Tammy Abraham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin seemingly well placed and injured regulars Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford benefiting from a long layoff.
Since the restart, however, Ings has continued to look the sharpest English forward in the league and the variety and quality of his finishing will surely have caught England manager Gareth Southgate’s eye. — Reuters