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Manchester United players have only a few weeks to earn their places in the Emirates FA Cup final

Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 201 at Wembley on Saturday evening to earn a place in the final of the Emirates FA Cup this season. The match will be played against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday 19th May 2018, KO 17:15. United came from behind to beat Spurs, after Dele Alli opened the scoring in the 11th minute of the match, Alexis Sanchez playing a big part by scoring the equaliser in the 25th minute of the match, assisted by Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera scoring the winner in the 62nd minute, assisted by Romelu Lukaku.

This season, United’s players have not all been performing. Some of them have in parts, others have been trying to do everything they can to achieve something. There have also been some players, who rightly or wrongly, have been criticised for not doing what they should, one of those left for Arsenal in January – Henrikh Mkhitaryan. United have a great squad of players, they should be playing to their potential but some just do not seem committed to the club in the way you would expect.

The Emirates FA Cup final will be United’s opportunity to end the season on a high, being able to brag about what they have won and also show the progress which has been made – something which some so-called supporters refuse to accept as progress. Gone are the days when patience was needed as a football supporter, with the money in the game, clubs have been able to buy success and that is something most supporters expect today. I would love to see a modern-day football fan back in the 1970’s or even the 1980’s, where United’s success was not obvious.

Many feel that sacking another manager is an option as they have their eyes on another manager who they feel could do the job better than Jose Mourinho, and like they did against David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and now, Mourinho, they will be against the next manager in a matter of time, if things did not go the way they wanted. It never does. These fans change their opinions as often as they change their socks, I hope they change their socks anyway.

Mourinho will have an idea of the players he will likely choose for the FA Cup final but he will give his players at least the next two or three Premier League matches, at home to Arsenal and away against both Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham United, to fight their ways for a position in the starting XI or on the bench. Over the last few matches, Mourinho has brought those who have not played for a while back into contention and that is something he will continue doing for the remainder of the season, some may have earned their chances.

David May, a winner of the FA Cup in 1996 and 1999 spoke to the official Manchester United website about United’s season, suggesting that if they had been beaten by Spurs, the remainder of the season would not have been so great. Now United have something to focus on, something that could end the season on a high and even match a record which is currently held by Arsenal – 13 FA Cup victories. May said:

“Had we not won at the weekend against Spurs it would have been a poor end to the season. It would have been flat and it would have been dead. But now everybody in the team is thinking, ‘hang on a minute we have got a Wembley cup final here’. So they will be pulling their fingers out to put in performances over the next four games, to impress the manager and get a place in that squad for the biggest game of the season.”

There will be players that may feel their places in the squad are guaranteed, but that is not something that would stand as correct. Mourinho has a good squad at his perusal and each and every player in the squad could earn their chance to play at Wembley in May. Mourinho has been criticised for not giving some players more chances, but like he has said, he can only pick 11 players for each match, then seven substitutes, of which only three can play in the match.

Some of the players that have been dropped do deserve to be dropped. Anthony Martial for instance. Some say (Martial FC) that he is the best player in the squad but that would be preposterous. He has the talent, yes, but does not seem to have the fight, determination and the mental nous to fight for his place. Players like this will see a much easier opportunity away from Old Trafford, might become a world beater, leading to criticism of the person who allowed them to leave. Manchester United is much bigger than any player, it always will be.

Paddy Crerand, a winner of the FA Cup in 1963, has also talked about the fight for places ahead of the final, which in turn will keep most of the players on their toes. However, he did say that Mourinho could only pick eleven players for the final and most will not want to miss out. Some will though. Crerand said:

“The manager will say places are up for grabs to keep everybody on their toes. Jose [Mourinho] can only pick 11 players for the final… and, trust me, you don’t want to miss out!”

United have another big match at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon as Arsenal will roll into town, which will be the last time manager Arsene Wenger will be at the Old Trafford club leading a Premier League side. Five days later, United travel to Brighton, on a Friday evening, then facing West Ham United at the London Stadium almost a week later, on a Thursday evening. The final Premier League match, which could see youth utilised, follows a few days later on Sunday 13th May. Then the big one, the FA Cup final, six days later. Who will earn their places in the team?

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