Home » FA Cup replays backlash, Nagelsmann extends Germany deal: football news – as it happened

FA Cup replays backlash, Nagelsmann extends Germany deal: football news – as it happened

FA Cup replays backlash, Nagelsmann extends Germany deal: football news – as it happened

Key events

We’ve reached the end of today’s weekend football countdown … below, you will find links to all today’s football pieces to read at your leisure. Have a great weekend and I’ll be back with England v Ireland in the Women’s Six Nations tomorrow. Bye!

‘It is very sad’: Guardiola and Ten Hag react to removal of FA Cup replays – video

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

Maximilian Kilman is reflecting on the days when, long before evolving into one of the Premier League’s most consistent defenders at Wolves, fierce derbies largely comprised playing in student matches for the University of Hertfordshire, from which he will formally graduate with a business and sport management degree this September. “I remember Bedfordshire away,” he says, smiling, recalling playing another university. “It was similar to how it is now; the students would be booing, supporting their university, and you felt that rivalry. It was something I really enjoyed, the whole atmosphere and vibe. I am still friends with some of the boys from the uni team. I don’t think anyone expected I would get this far.”

Did someone say weekend match previews? For the Premier League and FA Cup?

Get them while they’re hot:

Joking aside, though – as Jacob Steinberg wrote last night – West Ham’s valiant attempt to overturn a two-goal Europa League deficit against Leverkusen “was a reminder of how brilliant Moyes has been for West Ham”:

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Meanwhile – and this is sensational stuff – David Moyes has revealed that West Ham’s aim is to win all of their remaining games.

“It’s good to see he’s come over to the Premier League,” Moyes firstly says of Palace’s Glasner. “He’s a very good manager. They had a brilliant win last week against Liverpool.

“We need to win now. We want to try and win all our games, It’s hard to put any different spin on it,” Moyes says. “We’ll go there and try and get a result.”

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We have 18 more points available. But our full focus has to be on West Ham,” says the Crystal Palace manager, Oliver Glasner, before Sunday afternoon’s clash with the Hammers.

“They are very good team with a lot of strengths – Bowen, Antonio in attack, physically with Soucek always making the runs in the box, Kudus is a very good player one-on-one, Ward-Prowse is probably the best deliverer of set pieces in the league … a lot of strengths. We have to be ready for this game.

“It makes no sense speaking about nine points in one week. [Palace have Newcastle at home on Wednesday, then Fulham away next Saturday.] It just makes sense speaking about West Ham.”

Paul MacInnes

Paul MacInnes

It’s about an hour before kick-off at Stamford Bridge and Everton fans are milling outside the gate that leads to the away end. It’s a Monday night and people look tired, having just been dispatched from their coaches at the end of a five-hour journey. Some are waiting for friends, clasping cups of coffee, others are looking for spares. The consistent topic of conversation, meanwhile, is the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules.

“As a fan you just want to go to the game, you want to watch the match, you want to live and breathe your team and your club and everything,” says Hanif Karimi, who follows Everton home and away. “Instead you’re spending your evenings reading through reports just to see what they’ve done to us.”

Ed Aarons

Ed Aarons

Mikel Arteta insisted that the scrapping of FA Cup replays was necessary to “protect our players” as the EFL described the decision as further evidence that clubs lower down the pyramid were being marginalised.

Forest investigate Gibbs-White racism allegation

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

Nottingham Forest have confirmed they are investigating allegations Morgan Gibbs-White was racially abused by a Wolves supporter last weekend. Gibbs-White joined Forest from Wolves, whom he signed for aged eight.

A club statement on Friday read: “Nottingham Forest strongly condemns racism and all other forms of discrimination. We will continue to work with the authorities on the matter.”

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Nuno Espírito Santo, the Nottingham Forest manager, is asked to size up Sunday’s relegation six-pointer with Everton: “It’s a big games for both teams, one of the final games of the season when everything is decided. Huge game,” he said.

Have Forest improved in an attacking sense recently? “We can say the attack has improved, but not enough. We’ve been playing good. Offensively some good stuff but we can improve. Defensively some issues. We have to improve. But this is football.

How do Forest negate Everton’s threat from set-pieces? ‘Working, working, working … it’s working time. We worked on it today and we’ll do the same tomorrow. Unfortunately we conceded one corner last game. It’s finding the balance of not conceding at set pieces.

Nuno is asked where else Everton are strong, but he takes it straight back to pesky free-kicks and corners. “Very strong,” Nuno says. “They score a lot from set pieces. They are a strong side on that moment of the game.”

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In other Pep Guardiola and Manchester City news, he was asked about Cole Palmer, who of course was at the Etihad until joining Chelsea last summer.

“He’s an exceptional player, we knew when he was here. I’ve said many times, I didn’t give (him) the minutes that maybe he deserved and now he has at Chelsea. I understand completely,” Guardiola said.

“He’s a shy guy with a lot of potential. It is what it is. He’s playing fantastically well. But he was asking for two seasons to leave. I said ‘no, stay’. But he still said ‘no, I want to leave’. What could we do?” (Reuters)

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Liverpool, like Arsenal, have lost two matches in the past week. Factor in the 3-0 first-leg defeat by Atalanta last week and the 2-2 draw with Manchester United and they are winless since beating Sheffield United on 4 April.

But big Jürgen is feeling positive.

“I’m fully ‘in’: there’s a next chance for us,” Klopp said. “We can make it still an outstanding season … it was already a good one so far – not the last game, but the season. Now let’s use that. The boys know I don’t tell them things that I don’t believe in. I’m 100% sure we can win all our games.

“The league is not in our hands. I think if we win all our games, there’s a good chance we can be champions. Maybe we only have to win five. Nobody knows. Who would have thought Arsenal would lose against Aston Villa? … We still have to go there, and it’s not one of my favourite away games …

“City have a lot of games to play, difficult opponents … How can we start winning games again? We had a bad week. Not even performance-wise. We created a lot of chances that we didn’t take.

“But the worst thing in football is not to have chances. I’m absolutely positive that after a day off and processing things properly, I’m more than happy the situation we are in.”

Pochettino, the Chelsea head coach, has had yet another chat about penalty-gate in last Monday’s 6-0 trouncing of Everton.

“We’ve had a meeting with all players and staff,” Pochettino said. “I explained my feelings and the way we’re going to act in the future if something happens.

“It’s good if the players want to take [a penalty] … to show their personality and the character of the team. But they need to respect the rules. Discipline is so important … what they did was in a very wrong way. It’s for us to apply the common sense, and the discipline, and change in the future.”

I think you could definitely say that squabbling over a penalty showed the character of the team …

Cole Palmer of Chelsea fights to take a penalty. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/AMA/Getty Images

Apropos the end of FA Cup replays, Ten Hag said:

“It’s very sad for the British football culture … but I think also it’s inevitable. No one can do anything for it.

“It’s due to the overload in the schedule that is dictated by Fifa and Uefa.”

John Brewin has turned his attention to the following news story, in which Erik ten Hag attempts to draw a line under recent controversy and insists Manchester United’s squad is not divided:

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The City game was never going to be defining for us,” says the Luton manager, Rob Edwards, before tomorrow’s Premier League meeting against 15th-placed Brentford. The Hatters were beaten 5-1 at the Etihad last week.

“These next five will be, clearly. We know how important these next five games are.”

Luton are 18th, and their run-in is as follows: Brentford (H), Wolves (A), Everton (H), West Ham (A), Fulham (H).

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Guardiola unsure on Haaland’s fitness for Chelsea tie

The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, is uncertain whether Erling Haaland will feature in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea after his prolific striker asked to leave Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final with a muscle injury.

Guardiola took both Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne off before extra time in a surprise move during City’s penalty shootout loss to Real Madrid.

“Erling felt something, a muscular issue,” Guardiola said on Friday. “We will see. Kevin felt exhausted, so tired, after five months out injured (at the start of the season), so that’s normal.”

It is not surprising, Guardiola added, that his players are feeling the effects of a gruelling schedule, which is a byproduct of the team’s success.

“It’s normal, with the amount of games we’ve played this season and in the previous seasons,” the Spaniard said. “There’s not much time for recovery, we played extra time and the intensity we play. We are not machines, the fatigue is there.” (Reuters)

Erling Haaland has a niggle. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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Thanks David. I just need to do a couple of hamstring stretches and take my jewellery off.

That’s me done on today’s blog. Time for fresh legs in the form of Luke McLaughlin.

Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after sustaining a ruptured Achilles tendon during the warm-up before Tuesday’s 3-0 win against Preston.

The injury is expected to sideline the 22-year-old Irish international for nine to 10 months.

Martínez banned for Villa semi-final

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

Aston Villa goalkeeper and pantomime baddie Emiliano Martínez escaped a red card in Lille because, as per Ifab rules, yellows are not carried into penalty shootouts but the Argentine stopper has not avoided all punishment after his antics in the Europa Conference League tie in France last night.

Uefa have confirmed the Martínez will be suspended for the first leg of Villa’s semi-final at home to Olympiakos next month after picking up three yellow cards in the quarter-finals.

Martínez was booked in Villa’s victory over Lille at Villa Park before twice being cautioned in France, once in the first half, for time-wasting, and then again for his antics during the shootout. Robin Olsen will likely deputise when Olympiakos visit.

In case anyone was wondering if the Nagelsmann news affects Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern future…

🚨 What if FC Bayern asks you to stay beyond this summer after Nagelsmann signing new deal with Germany?

❗️ Thomas Tuchel: “I’ve an agreement with the club to part ways in June, it has been communicated and it stands”. pic.twitter.com/qCgVpXyxpN

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 19, 2024

The odds for next Bayern Munich manager now make interesting reading. Nagelsmann was a hot odds-on favourite to return but now some layers have Zinedine Zidane at the front of the betting, with Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi the clear market leader with others. Hansi Flick, Sebastian Hoeness and Unai Emery are also listed.

Who wants some MLS power rankings? How are Messi’s mob getting on? All is revealed here:

Ivan Toney returned from his gambling ban with a bang, scoring in four of his first five games back. But despite stroking home a trademark no-look penalty for England, he’s not managed a goal in his last eight games for Brentford.

A hip problem has hampered him of late and Toney was left on the bench in Brentford’s win over Sheffield United last weekend. Ahead of the trip to Luton, Bees boss Thomas Frank knows Toney is chomping at the bit to get back into action.

“Ivan is pressing. He is desperate [to start] – and I am desperate, so let’s see tomorrow. They [the Brentford fans] know how much I like Ivan and how important a player he is for us. Like any other player, he wants to make a difference. Of course, he would like to perform.

“With all your important players, you are willing to push them hard to play, and all of the important players normally have an extraordinary mentality and can push through things.”

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder isn’t accepting anything just yet and wants to take their relegation fight to the wire. Fighting talk!

“That’s got to be our aim and that is the feel, genuinely. Around the group and the club and in the city as well. Last weekend, 0-0 at half-time against a good Premier League club (Brentford) that’s established two or three years in the Premier League, the fantastic vocal backing that we had meant it felt like a home game for us, even though our supporters were stuck in that corner.

“They’re seeing it as much as I’m seeing it as well so yeah, we want to take it down to the wire. We understand the importance of every game, we’re going into every game as the biggest one and most important. We’re not looking ahead, I’m not looking ahead to Old Trafford in midweek or next weekend at Newcastle.

“And that comes off the back of me managing over 1,000 games. I’ve seen what changing rooms are like when they’re down and I’ve seen changing rooms when they’ve been overconfident.

“Burnley had a more settled pre-season than what we had, but like us they have found it difficult and found results difficult to come by. Both teams are after three points. We are in it to win it and so will they be. We haven’t picked up enough points that performances have deserved recently. We need to play well, show the qualities of recent games and marry performance with a big result.”

Sheffield United v Burnley on Sunday looks like a dead rubber to most. The relegation odds agree. The Blades are 1/500 for the drop and Burnley 1/16.

At least Burnley are showing some signs of improvement – one defeat in six – although it all looks a case of too little to late. Vincent Kompany isn’t throwing the towel in just yet but his reflective words are revealing. It’s a season of what might have been.

“If you were to draw a line and restart the league almost at this calendar year, I think this team is on the way to becoming hopefully an interesting proposition for this league. But we’re running out of games so it has to happen in the next (five).

“We’re still nowhere near getting the results we think we could. The games are decided in the final third and it’s been on a knife-edge. That’s where you want it because it gives us a chance. (Since) the start of the season we’ve had valuable additions in January, we’ve recovered a few players as well. It’s been fine margins for a while now, that’s the nature of the league.

“The biggest thing for me is this season, the amount of times at the end of the game we’re sat in the staff room and looked at ourselves and said ‘How did we not come away with a win or a point?’ That’s been the season. We can pin it down to some key moments. But we can look back as much as we want. It’s about the five games in front of us.”

EFL “marginalised” over FA Cup replays decision

More developments on the big story about FA Cup replays being abolished. The EFL have responded on Friday afternoon with the following statement.

“The EFL wishes to clarify further its position in respect of yesterday’s Premier League and Football Association bi-lateral announcement over the removal of FA Cup replays and the role of the League’s representatives on the Professional Game Board (PGB).

“The agreement which now sees the abolition of replays from the competition format was agreed solely between the Premier League and FA. Ahead of the deal being announced there was no agreement with the EFL nor was there any formal consultation with EFL Clubs as members of the FA and participants in the competition.

“In September 2023, the EFL did initially discuss with Clubs potential changes to the FA Cup format but only as part of a wider and more fundamental change to financial distributions. As is now clear, there has been no movement in this area since September.

“This latest agreement between the Premier League and the FA, in the absence of financial reform, is just a further example of how the EFL and its Clubs are being marginalised in favour of others further up the pyramid and that only serves to threaten the future of the English game.

“The EFL today calls on both the Premier League and the FA, as the Governing body, to re-evaluate their approach to their footballing partnership with the EFL and engage more collaboratively on issues directly affecting our Clubs.

“A separate issue is the role of the EFL representatives on the Professional Game Board (PGB) in agreeing to the 2024/25 overall fixture calendar. PGB is there to make technical decisions across the game as opposed to key policy decisions such as competition changes or formats.

“Any decisions taken on the calendar involving EFL representatives are in no way an endorsement of the joint deal agreed between the FA and Premier League that imposes changes to the FA Cup competition format in isolation.

“As part of the discussions the EFL representatives did challenge the position and were told that Clubs would be comfortable with no replays. They were effectively advised that, as a result, of it being an FA competition, the fixture list needed to be agreed as presented. It is also important to note that this matter was not discussed by the FA Cup committee, a separate group that oversees the competition across the professional and national game.”

A quick look at the top end of the Premier League and that battle for fourth. Suddenly, fifth looks no good with Germany stealing a march in the coeffecient rankings although there’s still hope. Spurs fans certainly need to cheer Villa on in Europe.

Villa actually play twice before Spurs are in action next so that gap could be stretched to nine if Unai Emery’s men beat Bournemouth on Sunday and Chelsea next Saturday evening. Both games are at Villa Park.

Former Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick has died aged 84, the club have announced. Keswick spent seven years in the role until he stepped down in 2020, having initially joined the Gunners’ board of directors in 2005.

Arsenal said: “It is with great sadness that the club reports the death of former chairman, Sir Chips Keswick. A lifelong Arsenal supporter, he was a regular at Highbury after first standing in the boys’ enclosure in 1949 and listed his early heroes as the Compton brothers and Jimmy Logie but, above all, goalkeeper – and later manager – George Swindin, as young Chips was a budding schoolboy keeper himself.”

O’Shea could stay on as Ireland boss

John O’Shea could remain interim Republic of Ireland manager after the Football Association of Ireland revealed Stephen Kenny’s permanent successor may not be in place until September.

(Per PA Media)

The 42-year-old former Manchester United and Ireland defender took charge of March’s friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland as officials continued their search for a replacement for Kenny, who lost his job in November.

However, director of football Marc Canham, who said last month the new manager would be announced “in early April”, confirmed on Friday the recruitment process was ongoing and could be for some time yet.

Canham told FAI TV: “Realistically we’re looking now towards the UEFA Nations League with our first game against England in September and that’s what we’re aiming to do. We recognise that the timelines and deadlines that we’ve previously set have created a sense of expectation and potentially confusion for everyone.

“In hindsight, we would maybe not set those deadlines if we were to do this again and absolutely just commit to trying to find the best person and take as long as that should take, and that’s our aim. We recognise and apologise for that, but we’re also confident that ultimately we believe this process will result in us finding the best person for the job.”

Canham revealed talks with O’Shea, who has indicated he would like to be considered as a candidate for the permanent role, over an extension to his interim spell to cover June’s friendlies against Hungary and Portugal were under way.

He said: “In the two June friendlies, the expectation now is that we will have an interim head coach whilst we continue the search for a permanent head coach for September. We would like that to be John O’Shea. We were very pleased with what he did in the March friendlies and we’re talking to him at the moment. We’re hoping to be able to confirm that as soon as possible.”

England Under-21s coach Lee Carsley, who was the FAI’s preferred candidate, has ruled himself out of the race, while Neil Lennon has been told he will not be getting the job and Gus Poyet, Chris Coleman and Chris Hughton have all be touted for the post.

However despite discussions between the association and a series of candidates, an appointment is yet to be made and Canham, who along with president Paul Cooke, interim chief executive David Courell and board member Packie Bonner has been handed the task of identifying the new manager, acknowledged mounting frustration among fans.

He said: “We have many great memories of our men’s national team competing at major tournaments and that’s what we want in the future and that’s why we are taking our absolute time and doing our very best and are determined to find the best person to help make sure we have future memories of that, of qualifying for major tournaments.”

Thanks John. Let’s go back to the title race. Trent Alexander-Arnold made his first start since mid-February in Liverpool’s ultimately futile 1-0 win away to Atalanta last night, pinging a few trademark long passes early doors before understandably running out of gas after the break. Now his focus is on one last push in the Premier League.

“After the game we spoke quite positively about the rest of the season. We’ve got a month left and we need to give it everything. That’s what we are going to do, we are going to throw everything at it and try to do all that we can,” he told the club’s website.

“We know it’s not in our hands any more but we need to be as good as possible and just be in the best position that we can to capitalise if teams do slip up.”

Liverpool now face a trio of away matches, starting with Fulham on Sunday before trips to Everton and West Ham. He added: “We have got a very difficult week ahead of us, three away games that we need to win and get results in and that’s our aim now.”

That’s me for the next hour. Can I hand you back to David Tindall? I think I can.

Huge game tomorrow at 12.30pm UK time. Chelsea play Barcelona in the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, the Spanish giants’ temporary home, and come up against many a world champion.

Chelsea are top of the WSL but the Champions League is what Hayes would like most to sign off with.

Mark Robins has been speaking ahead of the semi-final between Coventry and his old club Manchester United: “We know it’s a really difficult challenge. I hear people saying Manchester United are this or that. The truth is they have top players. We have got to be able to deal with the situation and the threat they pose.

“You have to go into this game understanding what the threats are. For people who are talking about United conceding a lot of shots, you are talking about a team which is full of talented top players. Most of them are international players, if not all of them, with a lot of really positive attributes. We know they are favourites to win this game by a million miles. We have to understand what this game is going to be, what the occasion is and the fact there shouldn’t be any fear.

“Manchester United are the biggest club in the world, we know they have got top talents. If you cannot go and enjoy that, you shouldn’t be playing.”

Erik ten Hag has been speaking about Jadon Sancho, the problem child now playing rather well for Borussia Dortmund: “A great performance from Dortmund and also for Jadon it’s good news. He made his contribution to the result for Dortmund. We know Jadon Sancho is a fantastic football player, so that is not a surprise for us. That is not the issue.”

Liverpool are still in the title race, but there is an end of term feel about them these days.

Talking of Mark Robins. Where were you? I was watching in my grandparents’ front room in Sale, in glorious Trafford.

Will Unwin spoke to a few of Robins’ teammates.

Erik ten Hag has had his say on the FA Cup, the competition that may just save his bacon: “It’s very sad for the British football culture but I also think it is also inevitable, and no-one can do anything for it. It’s due to the overload in the schedule, and that’s dictated by Fifa and Uefa.

“We are a big competition, and we have a big influence and a big impact, but there are so many other countries and there is so much overload on the players and it has to stop. As I said, I feel really sorry and sad for the clubs in England but, for top players, we have to make some space in the schedule.”

He won’t think that when he’s managing Northampton in a few years.

John Brewin

Good afternoon. Only the FA could harpoon the FA Cup on their weekend of the semi-finals.

Time to hand over to John Brewin for the second leg. He always runs a great bend.

Hereford will be forever linked with the FA Cup and that famous Ronnie Radford goal in a replay against Newcastle. Like many down the pyramid, they’re not happy with the FA’s decision to change the format and have released this statement.

“We would like to express our disappointment at the announcement from the Premier League and Football Association that the format of the FA Cup will be changing, including the scrapping of replays from the First Round onwards.

“It is clear this decision has been taken with the views of a small minority of clubs to the fore, placing little or no importance on how significant and special the FA Cup is to hundreds of others – both financially and through the additional interest that is often created in local communities.

“Our city was catapulted onto the football map thanks to the exploits of Colin Addison’s Southern League Hereford United team in the 1970s, and his side’s FA Cup Third Round Replay win over First Division Newcastle United in February 1972 remains one of the greatest upsets in the competition’s history. No-one will ever forget the late, great Ronnie Radford.

“Under the FA Cup’s new rules, a giantkilling exactly like this will no longer be possible, as the match would have to be settled at St James’ Park, without the added drama of a second game at Edgar Street.

“We would join the huge number of EFL and non-league clubs in asking the Football Association to suspend this decision until a full consultation has taken place with all the affected stakeholders in the game we love.”

Can Emma Hayes wave goodbye to Chelsea by winning the only trophy to have eluded her during a highly-successful 12-year reign? Ahead of the Women’s Champions League semi-final, first leg in Spain, Suzanne Wrack says Barcelona represent intimidating opposition.

Magdalena Eriksson, a former five-time WSL winner with Chelsea, runs the rule over the Women’s Champions League semi-finals. The first legs are on Saturday.

12.30pm: Barcelona v Chelsea
6pm: Lyon v PSG

As the FA double down on their decision to get rid of replays, other managers are giving their opinions in today’s press conferences.

Here’s West Ham boss David Moyes. “I think the football schedule is too full, I think there are too many games. Something has to give in football somewhere or you may find it’s going to be very difficult. I’m not saying that this was the thing that had to give, but somewhere along the line, I think something will have to loosen up a little bit to give the players a little bit more room.”

Coventry boss Mark Robins has given his thoughts on the FA’s move to scrap FA Cup replays. The former Manchester United frontman faces his old club in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend.

“You look at the grassroots and the EFL, below, they’re all part of the pyramid that needs to feed each other and eventually feeds the Premier League. We’ve all played our part in developing them and that should never be underestimated or forgotten about.

“I think there are other things that may have happened – like replays up until the third round, which doesn’t impact the bigger clubs that have made this decision.

“At the end of the day it does kick everybody in the teeth below that level, there’s no doubt about it, but there’s nothing we can do about that apart from voice concerns. Maybe there’s a rethink for those clubs, but it’s really difficult for them to come to terms with.”

And some further detail here from PA Media as this story takes further twists.

On Friday morning Bradford joined a group of EFL clubs condemning the move, which also includes Accrington, Crawley, Grimsby, Peterborough, Tranmere and AFC Wimbledon. The Bantams statement said that although retrospective consultation from the FA was still necessary, it would now be “nothing more than an insult”.

Sources close to the EFL say that although approval was given at Professional Game Board level, the changes were presented there as a fait accompli. Sources add that the EFL was sidelined from discussions about how its clubs would be compensated for the loss of replays, and that Thursday’s announcement containing details of extra funding for the grassroots game came out of the blue.

Nagelsmann signs new deal with German national team

Julian Nagelsmann will stay on as manager of Germany until the 2026 World Cup. No return to Bayern then. Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi could now be in the frame to sign up with (60s pop combo/Beatles warm-up act) Harry Kane and the Bavarians.

🚨🇩🇪 OFFICIAL: Julian Nagelsmann has signed new deal as German national team head coach until World Cup 2026.

“This is a decision of the heart. It is a great honour to be able to coach the national team. We can ispire the country”. pic.twitter.com/0bGwtU9EZ2

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 19, 2024

FA release statement in response to FA Cup changes

The FA have released a statement on their decision to scrap FA Cup replays and shift the date of the final. Lots of mentions of big organisations and TV companies but we’re struggling to see anything about consulting supporters’ groups. Strange that.

FA statement on changes to the Emirates FA Cup

— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) April 19, 2024

Back to some FA Cup memories. With Luke Garrard about to take charge of his final game for non-league Boreham Wood, Steven Pye says thankyou in this personal account of a memorable nine-year reign.

Meanwhile in the Championship, a host of former Premier League sides are nervously peering down rather than optimistically looking up. Here’s Will Unwin on how short-term approaches are holding clubs back.

Those FA Cup semi-finals and this weekend’s round of Premier League matches are all under the microscope in everyone’s favourite double digit looking-ahead column.

“Facing Chelsea three days after going out to Real Madrid is not ideal. Chelsea have already given City a tough time in the league, drawing twice and unsettling their defence with their pace on the break. Guardiola will be wary. But the title race remains tight and City have to think about a tricky midweek trip to Brighton. How many regulars does Guardiola leave out at Wembley?”

From the famous Giggs semi-final to the this year’s last-four showdowns. How will it all pan out? An all-Manchester FA Cup final for the second year running? Can Coventry cause a massive shock? Will Cole Palmer cause further seller’s regret?

Saturday 5.15pm: Manchester City v Chelsea
Sunday 3.30pm: Coventry v Manchester United

In creating a world with no FA Cup replays, you don’t get these. Take it away Motty…

Third round, 1972: Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle
Ronnie Radford’s famous 30-yard strike helps Hereford become the first non-league club to beat a top-flight side since 1949.

Oh what a goal! What a goal!

Semi final, 1999: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
Level at 1-1 after goals from David Beckham and Dennis Bergkamp, Ryan Giggs produces one of the FA Cup’s iconic moments, weaving his way through the Arsenal defence and blasting past David Seaman. Off comes the shirt and away he goes.

Giggs strikes in the 109th minute!

Fourth round, 2004: Tottenham 3-4 Manchester City
City produce an incredible comeback to beat Spurs at White Hart Lane with 10 men having trailed 3-0 at half-time.

Third round, 2015: West Ham 2-2 Everton (West Ham win 9-8 on penalties)
Perhaps most memorable for West Ham’s goalkeeper Adrián taking centre stage, throwing his gloves to the ground before converting the winning penalty at the end of a marathon shootout and a topsy-turvy 120 minutes at the Boleyn Ground

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There’s been an amusing stat doing the rounds this week that Eric Dier has reached more Champions League semi-finals than Arsenal have in their entire history. With that in mind, Max Rushden asks a question…

Hot on the heels of their Champions League exits, Manchester City and Arsenal are inevitably being linked with major moves in the summer transfer market.

The decision to scrap FA Cup replays from the first round next season has caused much outrage. As I write this, Mark Palios, former chief executive of the FA and executive chair of Tranmere Rovers, is venting his spleen on TalkSport. He’s also quoted in the story below. This is very much a hot topic.

An equation to cause alarm for those with eyes on fifth place in the Premier League. European exits for Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool + progress for Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen = Germany > England in the race for the extra Champions League spot. The Premier League looked almost a shoe-in but this week’s results have seen a dramatic flip in favour of the Bundesliga. David Hytner explains all.

“After Thursday’s ties, Germany have 125.5 points for a coefficient of 17.929 from their seven clubs while England have 139 points for 17.375 from their eight. France have 96.5 points for 16.083 from their six.”

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Let’s start with reaction from last night. Disappointment for Liverpool and West Ham but not so for Aston Villa with goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez taking shithousery to new levels by somehow being booked twice and still emerging as a crowd-shushing hero in a penalty shootout.

Preamble

FA Cup semi-finals, last-four encounters in the Women’s Champions League and a three-horse Premier League title race suggest positive energy is flowing from all angles going into the biggest weekend of the season so far. And yet, it isn’t quite that simple.

There’s a right old brouhaha surrounding the FA Cup with the decision to scrap replays from the first round onwards next season branded a “disgrace” in many quarters, a move designed to tip the scales even further in favour of the big clubs and deprive those further down the pyramid of much-needed revenue. Safe to say, the FA’s decision which includes the final being moved to the penultimate weekend of the Premier League campaign has caused genuine outrage.

As for those big clubs fighting it out at the summit, rather than riding a wave of momentum, the trio of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all go into the weekend on a bit of a downer after crashing out of Europe in various styles. Still, good news about Aston Villa.

Arsenal and Liverpool, who also suffered unexpected league defeats last weekend, at least have the chance to return to the top of the table with leaders Manchester City involved in FA Cup semi-final action against Chelsea.

It’s a massive weekend for Chelsea’s Women too as they travel to Spain for the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. French foes Lyon and PSG battle it out in the other semi.

Build-up to all this along with FA Cup replay backlash, reaction from last night, worrying coefficient news, manager chat, team news and various other random stuff starts now!