Soccer

Newcastle deals a significant victory to Ten Hag by ending Manchester United’s League Cup defense with a 3-0 victory

Manchester United’s tumultuous season took another downturn on Wednesday as their defense of the League Cup ended with a 3-0 defeat at home to Newcastle. This loss increased the pressure on manager Erik ten Hag.

The loss in the round-of-16 fixture marked United’s eighth defeat in all competitions this season, further compounding the struggles for the historically prestigious English club.

Ten Hag expressed his disappointment, saying, “It falls below the expectations everyone has for Manchester United. It’s clearly not up to par.” He assumed responsibility for the team’s performance, acknowledging that they were not meeting the required standards.

Erik ten Hag, head coach of Manchester United, reacts as Newcastle's Joe Willock scores his team's third goal during the EFL Cup fourth round soccer match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Photo by Nick Potts)
Erik ten Hag, head coach of Manchester United, reacts as Newcastle’s Joe Willock scores his team’s third goal during the EFL Cup fourth round soccer match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Photo by Nick Potts)

It has been a decade since United last competed for the major trophies in club soccer, winning the Premier League title in former manager Alex Ferguson’s final season. The prospects of a return to their former glory appear distant, with their current form pointing to another season of unfulfilled aspirations.

While the League Cup might not be considered a top priority for a club like United, it marked one of Ten Hag’s most significant achievements during his tenure. In February, he guided the team to the trophy with a victory over Newcastle at Wembley Stadium, putting an end to the club’s six-year trophy drought. However, that triumphant moment now feels like a distant memory as United’s season continues to deteriorate.

Newcastle's Lewis Hall scores his team's second goal during the EFL Cup fourth round soccer match between Manchester United and Newcastle on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. (Photo by Nick Potts)
Newcastle’s Lewis Hall scores his team’s second goal during the EFL Cup fourth round soccer match between Manchester United and Newcastle on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. (Photo by Nick Potts)

United suffered a 3-0 loss at home to Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, and Newcastle, backed by Saudi investors, replicated that scoreline, further intensifying the scrutiny on Ten Hag.

Throughout the game, Newcastle’s fans taunted the Dutch coach with chants predicting his imminent dismissal. While there have been no indications that Ten Hag’s position is in jeopardy, United’s persistent poor form is causing mounting concern.

Following the match, Ten Hag described himself as a “fighter” and expressed confidence in his ability to navigate through the challenging start to the season. He stated, “I’ve done it at all my clubs, and even here last year, I faced similar situations. However, at the moment, we find ourselves in a difficult situation, and I view it as a challenge.”

Manchester United's Sofyan Amrabat reacts as Newcastle's Joe Willock scores his side's third goal during the EFL Cup fourth round soccer match between Manchester United and Newcastle on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson)
Manchester United’s Sofyan Amrabat reacts as Newcastle’s Joe Willock scores his side’s third goal during the EFL Cup fourth round soccer match between Manchester United and Newcastle on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson)

Newcastle proved to be a formidable challenge on Wednesday, securing a commanding lead with first-half goals from substitute Miguel Almiron and Lewis Hall. Joe Willock added another goal in the second half to complete the scoring.

Despite Ten Hag fielding a starting lineup that had been assembled for roughly half a billion dollars, the outcome was a defeat. This was the case even in the absence of $82 million summer signing Rasmus Hojlund, along with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.

By the time Ten Hag called upon those missing players in an attempt to reverse the game’s course in the second half, he had deployed a lineup valued at approximately $720 million.

However, the infusion of talent made little impact on the final result.

Ten Hag expressed, “As a team, we are not performing at the required level, and regardless of the reasons, there’s no room for excuses. We must elevate our standards and improve because without that, we won’t achieve the desired level of performance and results.”

United displayed limited offensive threat in the first half and fell behind in the 28th minute due to a swift counterattack. Alejandro Garnacho lost possession in Newcastle’s half, allowing Tino Livramento to surge forward and set up Miguel Almiron, who successfully beat Andre Onana from inside the penalty area.

The deficit was extended eight minutes later, with United once again compounding their own problems. Defensive indecision led to Harry Maguire weakly heading Joe Willock’s cross from the left. His clearance only reached the edge of the area, where Lewis Hall was positioned to volley the ball into the bottom corner amidst a crowd of players.

Everton's Amadou Onana celebrates scoring during the English League Cup fourth round soccer match between Everton and Burnley on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Nick Potts)
Everton’s Amadou Onana celebrates scoring during the English League Cup fourth round soccer match between Everton and Burnley on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Nick Potts)

Ten Hag made adjustments at halftime, most notably removing captain Casemiro. Newcastle’s lead was increased, however, when Willock took the ball to the edge of the box and sent a low shot past Onana.

Newcastle will now face Chelsea in the quarterfinals.

“We hope to go one better than last season,” Newcastle boss Eddie Howe stated.

CHELSEA ADVANCES

Chelsea bounced back from their league struggles with a 2-0 victory against second-division side Blackburn.

Following a recent defeat to Brentford that left the London club in 11th place in the league standings, jeopardizing their chances of qualifying for the Champions League, manager Mauricio Pochettino moved a step closer to securing his first trophy in charge. The win at Stamford Bridge was secured with goals from Benoit Badiashile and Raheem Sterling.

Chelsea's Reece James, left, and Blackburn Rovers' Andrew Moran compete for the ball during their English League Cup fourth round soccer match on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Stamford Bridge in London. (Photo by Nick Potts)
Chelsea’s Reece James, left, and Blackburn Rovers’ Andrew Moran compete for the ball during their English League Cup fourth round soccer match on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Stamford Bridge in London. (Photo by Nick Potts)

Meanwhile, Everton is finding success in this competition. While their league campaign appears to be another battle for survival, they triumphed with a 3-0 win against Burnley at Goodison Park. Everton is now set to face Fulham in the quarterfinals in a home match. Fulham earned their spot in the last eight with a 3-1 victory against second-division Ipswich.

KLOPP’S CUP?

Liverpool defeated Bournemouth 2-1 thanks to Darwin Nunez’s 70th-minute winner. Jurgen Klopp’s club won the competition in 2022 and is looking for more silverware after going trophy-less last season.

Liverpool is the highest-ranked team still in the cup, and they will be hosted by West Ham, who defeated Arsenal 3-1.

UNDERDOGS

A team from outside the Premier League will feature in the semifinals as third division Port Vale has been paired with second-tier Middlesbrough.

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