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Newport boss Graham Coughlan: ‘I was dreaming of cup victory’

28 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Newport County manager Graham Coughlan applauds the fans following the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match at Rodney Parade, Newport. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Phil Blanche, PA

Newport belied their lowly standing of 16th place in the fourth tier with a committed performance sprinkled with some attacking moments of real quality in their 4-2 FA Cup loss to Manchester United.

Exiles boss Graham Coughlan revealed Ten Hag had given him “a nice little bottle of red wine” after the game, and admitted that he was contemplating a major upset after United had been pegged back.

Coughlan said: “I was dreaming at two-all. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb first 10 or 15 minutes.

“You can’t start a football game like that against that quality of opposition.

“They hit us hard, they were clinical and we learned quickly what the Premiership is all about in that first 10 or 15 minutes.”

On United’s late show costing County a lucrative replay, Coughlan added: “It was just unfortunate we couldn’t reach our cup final and go back to Old Trafford.

“I thought we had them at two-all. They were rattled. They could have gone under, and that’s a strange thing for a League Two manager to say.

“But the Premier League class shone through, so full credit to United.”

Erik ten Hag promised to deal with the absence of Marcus Rashford after the England striker missed Manchester United’s FA Cup victory.

Rashford reported ill on Friday after reportedly spending the previous evening at a Belfast nightclub.

“He reported ill,” United boss Ten Hag said after watching his side survive a massive fright in South Wales as League Two Newport fought back to 2-2 after conceding twice inside the opening 13 minutes.

“The rest is internal matter. I deal with it, we will deal with it.”

Ten Hag said there was a “no good culture” when he arrived at United in 2022 and he has encountered disciplinary issues during his Old Trafford tenure.

United misfit Jadon Sancho returned to Borussia Dortmund on loan earlier this month after falling out with the Dutchman.

Asked if Rashford was another example of that “no good culture”, Ten Hag said: “I don’t go in this case. We talked before about it, we played a good game, and now we move on.”

United established early command against opponents 76 places below them in the pyramid, Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo – with his first senior goal – producing excellent strikes.

Newport County’s Will Evans attempts a shot on goal during the FA Cup fourth round match at Rodney Parade, Newport. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

But Bryn Morris and Will Evans scored either side of half-time and United were in danger of becoming victims of a seismic giant-killing act before Antony and Rasmus Hojlund struck in the final quarter.

Ten Hag said: “The first 35 minutes it was very dominant. We did not give the opponent any chance and should have been three, four, five-nil up.

“Out of nothing they score a goal and straight after half-time again.

“We have to be critical of bad defending in transition. Poor defending from the cross, it’s 2-2, and they turned it around.

“But you see how resilient we are. We stayed calm, went back in our game, got the third and fourth goal, so job done.”

Newport County fans in the stands with a foil FA Cup banner during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match at Rodney Parade, Newport. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw were all back in the starting line-up after injury, while Harry Maguire made a late cameo for his first appearance since December 12.

“I know the character from Licha (Martinez), Casemiro, Luke Shaw, (Raphael) Varane, Bruno, Antony, (Alejandro) Garnacho, Hojlund. All fighters,” Ten Hag added.

“Sometimes you are in this situation. It was a bad pitch, but we totally dominated them for 35 minutes.”

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