Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

What now for Manchester United?

Football OlyBet 29.02.2024

Two months into an ownership change* at Manchester United and yet we are not all that much smarter. Change takes time and needs to be planned, sure. But what have INEOS already done and what else should be on their agenda?

Why the asterisk? Well, this “takeover” is not as simple as they normally are. The Glazers sold a minority stake – 25 percent – to INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, meaning that de jure, the club is still owned by the Glazers and they could pretty much do what they want. But de facto, the deal included control over footballing operations, including the youth academy.

So Ratcliffe, a “local boy and a lifelong supporter” as per his own words, can run the club (at least until the Glazers reconsider and it all ends in a nasty confrontation – it could happen after 18 months) as he prefers. It is not their first rodeo at INEOS, as they already control Ligue 1 side Nice and Swiss club Lausanne-Sport.

United will be on another level though and INEOS have already started putting the pieces together. They lured Manchester City CEO Omar Berrada to lead the club and are targeting Dan Ashworth, who worked as the sporting director of Newcastle United; the deal is more or less done, but Newcastle are holding out for a hefty compensation. Others are set to follow to create a sporting structure comparable to the best-run clubs in Europe.

300 million euros will be invested to revamp Old Trafford after discussions over building a brand-new stadium reportedly collapsed, and the training grounds at Carrington will also be getting a new coat of paint. Times will be different for Manchester United – and we have not even touched the dilemma regarding head coach Erik ten Hag and a solid bulk of the players.

Eleven years after Sir Alex Ferguson said his goodbyes, United seem to have reached the dawn of a new era. For Ferguson, it was all about knocking down Liverpool; now, it is their neighbours who need to be usurped.

How much will the first derby mean and what other games to enjoy over the weekend?

All times listed below are in Eastern European Standard Time (GMT+2).

Monaco – PSG

Friday 22:00

For a casual football fan, Monaco has been flying under the radar recently. They have not reached the Champions League group stage in their past five seasons, but have stayed relevant in Ligue 1, finishing in the top six regularly. They are third at the moment and fun to watch – in their last ten games (4W 4D 2L), they have both scored and conceded.

This has been a rather quiet season for PSG. After finishing second in 2020-21, they won the title comfortably in 2022 but were pushed close last season by Lens. They are now eleven points ahead of Brest, who have punched above their weight so far; it would take a monumental collapse to bottle it. But their last two trips to Monaco have not been exactly fun with 3-1 and 3-0 wins for the home team, so could it happen again?

Manchester City – Manchester United

Sunday 17:30

Manchester City have scored in their last 54 (!) home games in all competitions, and after putting four and six past United (with the final scores 4-1 and 6-3) on their visits in the last two seasons, can expect a good drubbing again. The first game of the season was a 0-3 home humiliation for United as well. Also, City just put six past Luton, with Erling Haaland scoring five of them …

United lost to Fulham in their last league game and snatched a late winner in the FA Cup, but they have not played particularly well despite a solid run of results in February (5W 1L). In sixth position and eight points off Aston Villa in fourth, Opta gives United just a 3.2 percent chance of finishing in the top four.

Napoli – Juventus

Sunday 21:45

Napoli are unbeaten (1W 2D) since appointing their third coach of the season, namely Francesco Calzona (this is just his second gig at 55 years old after the Slovakia national team), but only won their first game last weekend. Was the 6-1 victory over Sassuolo a sign of things to come though? In each of the last four seasons, they have defeated Juventus at home, and need to do it again to keep fighting for a Champions League spot.

Just a month ago, Juventus was looking to challenge for the Serie A title. Then they lost the big fight to Inter 0-1 and everything collapsed with another five points lost against Udinese (15th) and Verona (17th). Against Frosinone (16th) last weekend, they came from behind and scored a 90+5 winner to return to winning ways. Smooth sailing? With twelve games to go, this will be a vital one.

The Betis Babble

OlyBet is the proud betting partner of Real Betis.

Next game: Sunday 17:15 @ Atletico Madrid

Last weekend, it clicked: January signings Chimy Avila and Johnny Cardoso were on the scoresheet to earn a vital 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, helped by a needless red card from Bilbao winger Nico Williams (though Betis were already 2-0 up by then). Betis remains sixth, but are now just seven points away from Bilbao (and have a better head-to-head, should things come to that).

It will not get any easier though, with a visit to fourth-place Atletico next. It has been a notoriously difficult place for Betis to play (in their last ten, it reads 1D 9L) and head coach Manuel Pellegrini has never beaten Diego Simeone in eleven attempts (D4 L7).

There is hope, though: Atletico are going through somewhat of a rough patch and have not had proper rest since mid-February (this will be their fifth game in two weeks).


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