After an enjoyable 3-0 home win against Leicester City, Manchester United fans are in for a nail-biting and nerve-wracking week.
The first of two blockbuster games is against La Liga giants Barcelona. Following a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp that was bound to have blood pressure’s raised, Old Trafford will host the Catalonia side on Thursday evening in the second leg. Many fans believe that a win here will make United the tournament favourites, two years on from the devastating penalty shootout loss to Villarreal.
With Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer back in contention, Ten Hag will have a boosted squad ahead of the game. Add to this the absence of Barcelona’s Gavi and Pedri, our Dutch gaffer may well be disappointed if his side doesn’t prevail.
Just three days later, the Reds travel to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final, and a chance to get their hands on the club’s first trophy since 2017.
Following a goal-denying handball achieving Newcastle’s Nick Pope a suspension, and Martin Dubravka being cup-tied, Loris Karius may start his first competitive game since 2021, a much-needed bit of luck for the United, who will have five fewer days of rest before Sunday.
These two season-defining fixtures come during a pivotal week in the historic sale of the club. As of now, official bids from Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jaber al-Thani and INEOS’ Sir Jim Ratcliffe have come in, with outside attempts to hijack a deal still possible.
With two wins this week setting up for an ideal start to Ten Hag’s tenure, the pressure will be on for the players, who are currently in fine form having only lost once this year.
This week will be full of nerves, but trust in the squad is at the highest it’s been in recent years. This squad is spearheaded by Ten Hag, who left a message after the recent win, that is bound to bring excitement in the most anxious of fans.
Ten Hag on what he told fans at full-time: 'I said come Thursday, it's a big game, make sure you are there and we beat Barcelona together.' #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) February 19, 2023