Ten Hag addresses Man United fans after winning last home game of season. Chelsea beats Brighton

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag had just seen his team win its last match at Old Trafford this season when he strode onto the field and took the microphone to address the club’s fans.

There might have been a smattering of boos but there was largely a backdrop of cheers as the under-pressure Dutch coach delivered a speech that felt like an audition to continue in the job next season.

“As you know,” he said after the 3-2 win over Newcastle in the Premier League, “it wasn’t an easy season, but one thing remained constant — and that was the backing of you for the team.

“But this season is not over yet.”

Indeed, United still has to go to Brighton in Sunday’s final round of Premier League games. Then, the following weekend, it’s another FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Two huge games. Two opportunities to qualify for Europe. Two final chances for Ten Hag to stake his claim to stay on as manager of England’s grandest club as it undergoes a shake-up.

United remained in eighth place in the league — hugely disappointing for a club of its stature — but moved level on points with Newcastle in seventh and three behind sixth-place Chelsea, which beat Brighton 2-1 away in Wednesday’s other game.

With Tottenham likely to finish in fifth place, Chelsea, Newcastle and Man United look to be fighting for the final two European qualifying positions. The teams finishing in sixth and seventh place should qualify for the Europa League and Europa Conference League, respectively.

Man United could also get in the Europa League by winning the cup final against City on May 25.

Chelsea’s win at Brighton was its fourth straight in the league. That hasn’t happened since October 2022.


Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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