Andy Cole: “Man Utd would 150% benefit from not playing in Europe next season”

 | 8th May | 

12 mins read

Andy cole footy 1

After a crushing 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday evening, Manchester United now sit 8th in the Premier League table with three games remaining and a place in Europe next season is greatly at risk. Club legend Andy Cole believes that his former club would ‘150%’ benefit from not playing in European competition next season as it would allow the team to focus solely on their 38 Premier League games next season. Speaking to Betfred, Cole also spoke about the future of Casemiro, why he believes Jadon Sancho is finding success again at Borussia Dortmund and why injuries aren’t a proper excuse for Manchester United’s failings this season. 

After their 4-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace on Monday night, do you believe Manchester United’s players are letting down Erik ten Hag?

“I’ve said it before, a manager can do all they can from Monday to Friday and set their team up in the way they believe is best for them but once the players go out there on the pitch, they have to take as much responsibility as the manager. The players have to make decisions for themselves and not wait until half-time for the manager to tell them what to do.

“I’m not being disrespectful to Crystal Palace, but Manchester United shouldn’t be beaten 4-0 by them.”

Erik ten Hag confidently stated after the game that he believes he’s still the “right man” for Manchester United. Do you agree with him?

“I don’t know. I’m like everybody else now. In football, you can get that bit of luck and be perceived as the best manager in the world and then sometimes you can have a bit of a downfall and then you can be seen as the worst manager in the world. 

“We all know that injuries are part and parcel of football and we can never get away from that fact. Manchester United do have injuries, but they’re such a club that when you do get injuries, there should be good enough players in the squad to step up and replace those players that are injured. It’s Manchester United. It’s not like they’re a newly promoted team that have bought four or five players and they’ve gotten themselves injured and struggled to replace them. Manchester United should have enough quality in that squad to replace the players that are injured because that’s the whole point of having competition for places. It’s crazy.”

Who do you believe will get sixth place and place in next season’s Europa League, Newcastle United, Chelsea or Manchester United? Do you think a year out of Europe could benefit Manchester United next season?

“150%! If Manchester United are in Europe next season, then the expectation from the fans is going to be huge. Let’s just focus on becoming a better football team, get to a better position in the league and get Manchester United back to where they should be. 

“It’s going to take time. You can change all the things you want, but ultimately it’s going to take time. When I was a kid, my parents used to say to me that you can’t run before you walk and it’s the same scenario here with Manchester United. Wherever you want to get to, you can’t get there before you eradicate the problems that are holding you back currently. It’s going to have to take time.

“They need to forget about the Europa League and just try and finish as high as they can in the league. They should just concentrate on winning their last three league games and fingers crossed, they can go into the FA Cup final with a bit of confidence and belief. Don’t look any further than your next game against Arsenal on Sunday. Would I be surprised if Manchester United turned up on Sunday? No I wouldn’t. Let’s just concentrate on that game and see what comes of it.”

How do you believe Manchester United will get on against Arsenal on Sunday? Do you believe they can put a dent in the Gunner’s title aspirations? Do you believe most Manchester United fans would want their team to lose on Sunday if it can keep Arsenal ahead of Manchester City leading into the final week of the Premier League season?

“You could have possibly said that if they had beaten Crystal Palace on Monday. However, after that performance on Monday, there’s no way that any Manchester United fan in the right frame of mind would want their team to lose at home to Arsenal on Sunday. 

“The team got an amazing reception from the travelling fans on Monday night. I’ve played at Selhurst Park many times and we’ve got receptions like that, but that was on route to winning the title or winning the game at the very least. Giving a team that got pumped 4-0 a reception like that, it’s time for the players to turn up, come on.” 

Do you believe that the reception the Manchester United fans gave the team after their 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace was potentially in defence of the manager Erik ten Hag?

“It could well be. To get a reception like that after losing so comfortably, those players have to look themselves in the mirror and figure out what’s happening. What’s happening to this team? What’s happening to Manchester United? Why are we finding ourselves in this position? We can talk about the players, we can talk about the manager but in my opinion, there seems to be a lot of things wrong with Manchester United.”

On Monday Night Football after the defeat to Palace, Jamie Carragher said that Casemiro should head to Saudi Arabia or the MLS at the end of the season and told him to “leave the football before the football leaves you.” Carragher further claimed that the Brazilian is ”too good a player to play like that and be laughed at”, so what do you believe should happen regarding Casemiro’s future at the end of the season?

“Only Casemiro could make that decision. Only Casemiro could know why his performances are at the level they’re at now. We can all turn around and go “his performances have been s**t” and things like this, but we don’t know what’s going on in his head and his personal life. 

“Casemiro will make that decision at the end of the season and there’s no doubt that he’ll sit down with the club and make a decision based on what’s best for the club and the player.”

Do you believe Casemiro has the right to remain at Old Trafford next season, if he decides to stay?

“He signed a four-year contract didn’t he? If I signed a four-year contract and I had another two years on it and I wanted to stick around, then that’s up to me. If Manchester United want him to leave, then they’re going to have to decide whether they’re going to pay him to go. Ultimately, this is what happens when you give out long-term contracts. 

“Manchester United have found themselves in this position a lot over the last ten years. They’ve given players long-term contracts, the player’s done well for a year or two and then the club’s had to move them on for far less than they paid for them initially. Nothing’s really changed with the way that Manchester United have conducted their transfer business over the last ten years.”

Michael Olise has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in recent times, but after his performance against them on Monday, do you believe Eberechi Eze should be on United’s radar too?

“The two of them can play, put it that way. Olise came from Reading, Eze’s bounced back from being released at 16 years of age from Millwall and they’re both excelling now at Crystal Palace. Eze’s so comfortable on the ball, makes things happen and scores goals and Olise does exactly the same thing. It sounded like Olise turned down Chelsea at the start of the season and supposedly has a release clause in his contract, so I believe any of those two players could play for a top Premier League club because they’re creative, score goals and they’re two very talented kids.”

As this is the last time we’re speaking to you before the FA Cup final at the end of the month, do you have any faith in your former club being victorious on May 25th?

“It’s a cup final, it’s a one-off game and anything can happen. We’ve seen Coventry City beat Tottenham and Wigan beat Manchester City in FA Cup finals in the past and that’s a sign that anything can happen. 

“Manchester United need to turn up and hope Manchester City have a bit of an off day, like they did against Chelsea despite going through. You just don’t know. However, if Manchester United perform like they did against Crystal Palace on Monday then deary me, but we just have to wait and see.”

A report from the Telegraph last week indicated that Manchester United are open to offers for every player in their squad this summer, except Alejandro Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo and Rasmus Højlund. Is there any other player, or players, you believe your former club must keep a hold of?

“If it’s true, then it is what it is. In football, everybody has their price. That may be people deciding that the club needs a proper clearout this summer but if they do have one, then how long is it going to take for them to get back to where they need to be. Manchester United have been rebuilding for ten years and they don’t seem any closer, so we have to wait and see.”

Marcus Rashford is said to be valued at £70 million by Manchester United. Do you believe any prospective buyer would pay that for Marcus? Do you believe he’s being overvalued or undervalued?

“Like the old saying goes, you’re only worth what somebody’s prepared to pay for you. It’s that simple. If Manchester United say he’s worth £70 million and a club’s prepared to pay it, then he’s worth £70 million. If a club goes “no, we will only pay £50 million”, then he’s worth £50 million. You’re only worth what somebody’s prepared to pay for you and it’s the same when you buy a house or a car.”

In an interview with DAZN, Bruno Fernandes hinted that he could consider his future at Manchester United after Euro 2024. For what reasons do you believe Bruno would want to leave Old Trafford?

“We don’t know what’s going on a day-to-day basis. However, when it comes to interviews, especially if it’s written, then I’m not giving them the time of day. Words can be changed to make it look as if somebody’s looking to force a move when it’s completely different to that. When it’s the written press, I don’t take it on board whatsoever.”

Why do you believe Jadon Sancho is finding success again at Borussia Dortmund? 

“I will be very honest here, for whatever reason, Jadon Sancho is no longer at Manchester United because the move didn’t work out in the way that everybody expected it to work out. When he first went back to Germany, everybody was still laughing at him and when he’d have an off day for Dortmund, everybody would jump on the back of it and say that’s why he’s no longer at Manchester United. 

“As we all know about football, it’s all about confidence, self-belief and somebody believing in you can help you realise your capabilities. His form at Borussia Dortmund has taken off and he hasn’t only just been great against PSG, he’s played very well in a number of games. 

“You need to ask the question of how Borussia Dortmund have given him that confidence and self-belief again. He’s gone out there and shown everyone that he’s enjoying his football and realising his capabilities once again. He’s taking people on, he’s creating chances, sucking people in and scoring goals. That’s what everybody expected of him when he came to Manchester United. You can’t doubt his quality, especially when he’s proving it in the semi-finals of the Champions League.”

Do you believe any other top manager would want to come in and take the Manchester United manager’s job at present or do you believe Erik ten Hag could remain at the club by default this summer?

“Whatever will be will be. If somebody new comes in, then there’s going to be a lot of player movement and it’s going to take time for them to get it right. Why would Manchester United want to qualify for the Champions League if they’re going to be knocked out at the first opportunity? It’s purely to make revenue. Manchester United are better than that because if you look back to my time at the club, the aim was to win the Champions League and as they’re not ready for that yet, it would be a bit of a blessing if they didn’t play in Europe next season because ultimately they can focus on their league form, not have to play on Thursdays and Sundays and they can solely concentrate on their 38 league games and the domestic cup competitions.”

According to The Times, Crystal Palace are fearful that centre-back Marc Guéhi could leave Selhurst Park this summer, with Arsenal and Manchester United interested. Would you be excited to see the England international make the move to Old Trafford during the upcoming transfer window?

“I like him and I think he’s done very well for Crystal Palace. To move from Chelsea to Crystal Palace and then force himself into the England squad is very impressive. You know you’re doing very, very well if you can get yourself into the England squad. He’s talented, he’s young and he’s only going to improve, but it all depends on what direction Manchester United want to go in. It’s as simple as that. Nobody knows what the direction is at the moment, so we’ll have to wait and see.” 

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