David James predicts winner of FA Cup final, identifies replacement for Manchester United superstar in post-Ronaldo era
Since Ronaldo’s exit, Man United finished third in the Premier League and the Red Devils have also won the League Cup in Ten Hag's first season as manager.
In a season where Manchester United's 'prodigal son' Cristiano Ronaldo failed to grab a major trophy after ending his loveless marriage with the Red Devils, Erik ten Hag propelled his club to the English League Cup glory before the Old Trafford stalwarts punched their tickets for a blockbuster encounter with bitter-rivals Manchester City in the Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) final. Thriving in the post-Ronaldo era at Old Trafford, former Ajax manager Ten Hag has sparked a turnaround in his debut season as the manager of the Red Devils. (Manchester City vs Manchester United Live Score FA Cup Final)
Since Ronaldo’s exit, Ten Hag's Manchester United secured League Cup with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United. The Premier League giants have also returned to the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in the English top flight. It’s evident that a manager like Ten Hag can build a longer-term project at Old Trafford. Having said that, it will be interesting to see what players he would like to link up with at Man United in the transfer window.
'De Gea has not sorted out his contract'
Speaking to Hindustan Times in a selective media conference, former England goalkeeper David James opened up about the transfer strategy of the Red Devils. “I think he will have the pick of whoever is available. I think Ten Hag is a fantastic manager. I've been saying that from the beginning of the season. How he talks to the media, and how he acts with his players. He is no-nonsense, he knows what he wants. Very similar to Pep. As you said, now they have won silverware. This means they can now win things, they have also qualified for the Champions League. I don't think there's any player who would not be interested in the conversation at least,” James said.
Discussing the curious case of David de Gea, the former Premier League star also pointed out that the veteran Spanish goalkeeper can make way for an exciting young prospect next season. Signed by legendary manager Alex Ferguson from Atletico Madrid, De Gea is out of contract at Man United. Talking about the future of the Spaniard, James mentioned that either Robert Sanchez or Andre Onana can replace De Gea at Old Trafford. "With regard to the position, David De Gea has not sorted out his contract as we speak. Therefore, if that's the case then a goalkeeper's position will be an interesting one. Robert Sanchez will be suitable, he is only 24-year-old old, and there are a lot of opportunities to improve and longevity as well. We have seen that in De Gea as well. Someone like Andre Onana, who has been in the Champions League for Inter Milan. Again another goalkeeper who can totally enhance what Man United and Ten Hag are trying to do. With regards to outfield players, I can't really name names, there could be a shopping list far too long for me to finish off there because Man United can simply attract pretty much any player they want," James added.
Can Red Devils spoil Man City's treble party in FA Cup final?
Ten Hag's Man United are set to cross swords with derby rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Sunday at the iconic Wembley Stadium. Premier League holders Man City have looked pretty much unbeatable this season and Pep Guardiola's men also have a treble on sight. Though Man City have already tasted a defeat against Man United in their last meeting at Old Trafford, James doesn't believe that the Red Devils can spoil City's treble party in the FA Cup final.
“Yeah, I remember that defeat, there was a lot of controversy over Bruno Fernandes' goal. I must admit there wasn't a problem. But you can understand why people were unhappy. So yeah, I think that's what might linger with a few people. How Man City have progressed throughout the season, they have changed their style, form, shape and setup, the confidence has come into the side. Different players, different positions - all these aspects I think are leading towards Man City being the best they can be. In the last two games in particular - the first-ever FA Cup final - Manchester derby. It's something that you want to be the winner of. I don't think Ten Hag's side will win. I do think it will be a very close game, I think there is one point which I'm very keen on - that it's the last game for Man United this season, Pep still has another - it's a very important one - The Champions League final. So that might sway the overall quality of the performance. But I don't think the Manchester United side is as good as Man City. Therefore Man City will be the champions,” the ex-Man City goalkeeper said.