What would happen if Manchester United lost to a fourth division team?
Chris Sutton, who became known as the “BBC Octopus” for his high success rate in predicting matches and team rankings at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, told the Daily Mail’s It’s All Kicking Off soccer podcast on Monday (Aug. 26) that if Manchester United were to lose to Newport County, a fourth-division club, Eric Dier’s job would be cut short.
United host Newport in the FA Cup fourth round on April 29. With Newport playing in the fourth tier, many are predicting a United victory, even with the weight difference. Sutton is one of them. “We all think United will win the game quite comfortably,” Sutton said, predicting a United victory.
Nevertheless, United can’t let their guard down. For one thing, it’s an away game.
According to videos and photos released by the media on March 23, the conditions inside Newport’s Rodney Parade stadium, where United will play, are very poor compared to Old Trafford. Players have to sit on narrow planks to rest during matches, and tactical meetings are held on simple folding tables.
The dugout, where the manager and substitutes are located, is also poor. The chairs look rather uncomfortable and there are not enough of them.
As the Daily Mail put it, “United may have to bring bath chairs to properly position all the players and equipment.” Many top teams have struggled at the stadium due to the unevenness of the grass and the intensity of the home team support.
Tottenham last faced Newport in the fourth round of the FA Cup in the 2017-2018 season, drawing 1-1 away from home and only winning 2-0 at home. Spurs were strong enough to finish third in the Premier League at the time, but they were held to a draw by a hostile away crowd.
The 2018-2019 season also saw Leicester City, the 2015 Premier League champions and a consistent mid-table finisher, suffer a shock 1-2 loss at Newport. It wasn’t until the third round of the League Cup in the 2022-2023 season that Leicester were able to redeem themselves, beating Newport 3-0 at home.
As such, there are concerns that United could be the next victim of Newport’s ‘away hell’. “With a capacity of 8,000 home fans, Rodney Parade can be a very intimidating place to be,” says the Daily Mail, noting that it could affect United’s performance.
United are not the team they once were in their golden years. They’re torn between slumping and resurgence. Currently in eighth place in the league with 10 wins, 2 draws, and 9 losses, the Red Devils have scored 24 goals and conceded 29, and their goal difference is also negative.
“Remember that Leicester City also sacked Claude Puel after losing to Newport,” Sutton said, “and Turnhall is facing the worst possible situation in this game – win, lose or draw.” “If they lose, the heat of anger will engulf Turnhall,” he said, emphasizing that “this is a game they cannot afford to lose.”
Puel, who was in charge of Leicester City during the 2018-2019 season, was sacked at the end of February, a month after the Foxes lost to Newport, after a season that saw them struggle to win nine games, draw five and lose 13 in the league. While Turnbach hasn’t done as poorly as Puel, he hasn’t done as well as he could have with a big club like United.
With the Red Devils not taking anything for granted, even against a fourth-tier side, the two sides will face off on September 29 at 01:30 for a place in the top round of the FA Cup.