With Casemiro, Rashford and Ten Hag Manchester United basically have a quadruple in the bag
It’s just more Manchester United Quadruple talk, we’re sorry to report. Mediawatch is already very tired – maybe West Ham will do us all a favour later.
For the love of Quad
We’re not going to insult your intelligence by claiming we thought this was all dealt with yesterday. We knew we’d be back on the Manchester United Quadruple horse today, despite extensively pointing out why it’s not really worth talking about yesterday.
So then to Goal.com, where poor sod James Westwood has been tasked with writing ‘Five reasons why Man Utd can win a quadruple’. Of course, we can’t be absolutely certain that he was told to do this against his better judgement because numbers; we must accept the tiny possibility that he truly believes this nonsense. But James has quite cleverly left some very early clues that suggest he knows what you and we know.
We only have to get as far as paragraph two before Westwood describes vanquished Carabao finalists Newcastle as United’s ‘fellow top-four hopefuls’. Now ‘top-four hopefuls’ doesn’t sound like the description of a team you reckon could win absolutely everything, does it?
Blink twice if you’re being held against your will, James. Shrewd, though, sneakily slipping in straight away that he knows United aren’t going to win the league even if they do manage the other stuff.
But alas that doesn’t mean we can entirely excuse what follows.
‘United have the opportunity to make history in the final months of the season and GOAL is on hand to examine the key reasons why the quadruple is a realistic target for Ten Hag’s relentless Red Devils…’
‘The quadruple cannot be dismissed as a naïve pipedream…’
‘The revitalised Red Devils have one piece of silverware in the bag and they are very well placed to add three more trophies this season…’
‘Of the three trophies still available to United in 2022-23, the Premier League seems to be the most out of reach for United – but only on paper.’
We’re pretty sure it’s also true on grass, but go on. Let’s look at these five reasons.
Now, three of them can be grouped together quite easily as ‘reasons why Manchester United are once again a really f***ing good football team’. Take away the Quadruple talk and there’s no issue with any of them.
One is Casemiro’s brilliance and the influence of his winning mentality on the rest of the squad. Yes. He is both brilliant and a winner. No problem. Another is Marcus Rashford’s lethal form this year. Again, and to our absolute delight because he’s our favourite, there is no argument to be made against this claim. Rashford is mint. And the third is that Erik Ten Hag is a bloody good football manager with an ability to shape and alter matches mid-game that few can match. Yes, yes, yes.
But there’s an obvious problem here. This feature isn’t ‘Reasons why Manchester United are once again a really f***ing good football team’. It’s reasons they can win a Quadruple. Which essentially means getting the better of Arsenal and City and plenty more besides. And that’s where this gets tricky.
Casemiro is a winner. But that City squad also has quite a few of those. Even Arsenal are benefiting from picking up a couple of City fringe players/winners.
And yes, in Rashford, United have a striker in rare form. City notably have quite a handy goalscorers of their own, though. Spurs are still in the FA Cup and famously also boast such a player. And even Westwood notes that Ten Hag’s undoubted excellence this season at best puts him ‘in the same mould as Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’.
These assertions are all valid, but none of them make winning everything in a way never before seen in this country remotely feasible.
The other two reasons, inevitably and necessarily, address the problems with Arsenal and City. Because United are going to need those problems to be pretty f***ing big.
Arsenal’s is lack of depth. Fine, we guess. It’s been a talking point all season, but one significantly addressed in January by the addition of two Premier League-hardened players who have come straight into the team and hit the ground running in Leandro Trossard and Jorginho. It might still hurt Arsenal, but it’s not as obvious a problem as it once appeared. There’s more, though.
‘The fixture list is set to pile up for Arteta and his players as they prepare for the latter stages of the Europa League.’
Sit down, friend, for I bring grave news about Quadruple-chasing Manchester United’s fixture list as they prepare for the latter stages of the Europa League and FA Cup.
‘…a first league title since 2003-04 is still by no means sewn up.’
‘United look perfectly poised to pounce on any further mistakes.’
Not quite as perfectly poised, we’d argue, as Manchester City. Because they are six points closer.
But City are covered in the one remaining reason why United’s route to Quadruple glory is now so clear.
They might, you see, prioritise the Champions League, which they have never won, over the Premier League, which they have often won. This again feels like an entirely valid argument. In a different piece, it would be absolutely fine. ‘Why Arsenal can still win the Premier League title’ for instance.
But again, we hit the same problem as with all the other reasons: it inevitably raises the opposing question about United. If the argument is that City will struggle to overhaul a two-point gap on Arsenal as they pursue one other title, where does that leave us with United overhauling an eight-point gap while pursuing two other titles?
It’s almost like Quadruples are really hard to win, that there’s a reason why proper ones basically never happen, and that United are 150/1 to win this one.
James Ducker is still warming to his Quadruple theme in the Telegraph. ‘Erik ten Hag relishing fixture congestion chaos as Manchester United chase quadruple,’ it says here.
So what does Ten Hag have to say about all this Quadruple talk?
“That is for fans. We have to focus on the next game and that is the only thing we are doing. We don’t have to talk about trophies. We have to talk about West Ham United, that is the [next] game.”
We don’t even think that’s quite right. We’ve not seen a single United fan talk in remotely serious terms about the quad. Manchester United aren’t chasing a Quadruple. Manchester United fans aren’t chasing a Quadruple. But a lot of journalists are chasing Manchester United Quadruple clicks.
Supercomputer says no
Over to the Manchester Evening News now, where they’ve enlisted an old Mediawatch favourite for their own Quadruple content. That’s right, it’s the trusty SUPERCOMPUTER! Get in.
‘Supercomputer predicts Manchester United’s quadruple chances after Carabao Cup win’ parps the headline.
And what exactly does the FiveThirtyEight supercomputer predict? A, er, 3% chance of winning the Premier League and a 16% chance of winning the Europa League.
Hmm. That doesn’t sound great, but there must be better news in the FA Cup surely? Winning that seems way likelier.
‘FiveThirtyEight do not currently predict the outcome for domestic cup competitions.’
Oh for fu…
Trebles for show
Meanwhile, unnoticed and unremarked upon by all, Manchester City are now quietly 12/1 – and current favourites for all three legs – to match Manchester United’s 1999 Treble. United are 14/1 just to win the Premier League.
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