Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - United and Spurs seek FA Cup as last chance for silverware




United and Spurs seek FA Cup as last chance for silverware

Paul Pogba's Manchester United and Jan Vertonghen's Tottenham Hotspur are to meet in an FA Cup quarterfinal at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. AFP
Paul Pogba's Manchester United and Jan Vertonghen's Tottenham Hotspur are to meet in an FA Cup quarterfinal at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. AFP

United and Spurs seek FA Cup as last chance for silverware

Manchester United head into Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal against Tottenham Hotspur needing to keep their hopes of silverware alive to save their season.

However, Spurs are just as hungry as they aim to end a decade-long wait for a trophy and confirm their consistent improvement under Mauricio Pochettino.

Jose Mourinho’s men tightened their grip on the Premier League runners-up spot this week, but a title battle with champions Manchester City never materialised and they limped out of the Champions League in the first knockout stage.

To add to the frustrations of the beleaguered boss, speculation over the future of £89 million ($127 million) midfielder Paul Pogba has dominated headlines in recent weeks.

Often deemed surplus to requirements by Mourinho this season, Pogba showed what he is capable of by scoring twice to help United temporarily delay City’s title party in a thrilling 3-2 Manchester derby win a fortnight ago.

He impressed Mourinho once more in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Bournemouth, but in between was substituted and heavily criticised for his performance in United’s shock defeat against West Brom that gifted the title to City last weekend.

“Top performance. Top performance. Obviously the performance against City was special, coming with two goals,” said the United boss of Pogba, who was retained in the side despite seven changes.

“But this performance was a very similar level. So top performance. He can do it.”

Mourinho won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at Old Trafford and even delivering just the FA Cup would be a poor return in the eyes of fans who hoped for a Premier League push this season.

But United have a proud tradition in the competition, with 12 wins in their history, just one behind Arsenal.

Spurs are third on the list with eight FA Cup wins, but haven’t won the trophy since 1991, or any silverware since the League Cup in 2008.

Tottenham are, though, on the brink of qualifying for the Champions League for the third straight season.

‘Next level’

And Pochettino has always insisted that success in the Premier League and the Champions League is a better gauge of how well his side is progressing.

“If we are capable to win the Premier League and the Champions League it is a moment you say the team has improved and reached the next level,” said the Argentine.

“Until that, win the FA Cup or the League Cup, it will be fantastic for our fans but is not going to move the club to a different level.”

Pochettino is sticking to his guns despite evidence that success in domestic cup competitions has been the stepping stone to greater things for other clubs.

United’s FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace in 1990 laid the foundation for two decades of sustained success under Alex Ferguson, while City’s FA Cup win in 2011 ended a 35-year trophy drought and paved the way for the Premier League title the following year.

Spurs go into the match with a comfortable lead over fifth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League, with the dethroned champions likely to miss out on Champions League football next year.

Antonio Conte, widely expected to be in his final few weeks as Chelsea boss, has a more straightforward-looking task on Sunday against relegation-threatened Southampton, who Chelsea came from 2-0 down to beat 3-2 at St Mary’s last weekend.

The Italian boss is keen to fill in a surprising gap in his CV – despite repeated league success in Italy and England, he has never won a cup.

Conte has been coy when questioned about his future throughout a troubled season, but he urged his players to play for the fans regardless of his own position at the club.

“I was a player, and the players must play every game, and not for me, but for the club and for the fans,” Conte said.

“They must have great respect for this badge – they don’t have to play for the coach.”

FA Cup semifinals All times Cambodian

Saturday

Manchester United v Tottenham 11:15pm

Sunday

Chelsea v Southampton 9pm

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,