I MANAGED at Newport’s Rodney Parade recently. It is a proper ground.
It backs on to houses and, as an opposing team, you have got to get off the bus at the main road and walk down to it before the match.
When you think League Two and Newport as a whole, you don’t think glitz and glamour but it is a really nice place.
The fans are right on top of you, especially near the dugout, and they do give you a bit. I enjoyed it when I took Forest Green there.
They are a big, physical outfit who love a set-piece. The local lad, Will Evans, scores a lot of goals from out wide. He is not special but gothas a way of finding the net.
When I was there with Forest Green Rovers, I actually thought there was going to be really bad weather but they said we got one of the five days a year when there is no wind or rain.
Behind one of the goals, it is more or less nothing — no stand or building — so it is very open to the elements. If they get that sort of horrible, cold weather, it is huge for them. They will thrive off of it.
Ten Hag is a smart man. He will understand the new arrivals in Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford will want their own person in — so he has to bring something to the table to suggest why they shouldn’t change him.
The only way and easiest way is to win some matches and, in his situation, winning trophies.
For him, and his legacy at Man United, Ten Hag needs to win the FA Cup this season and hope that’s enough. That’s what Manchester United are built on, being successful.
I was listening to one pundit recently who thinks he is done at the end of the season anyway, and I don’t tend to disagree with that. He really has his work cut out to keep his job.
Should Ten Hag lose against Newport and get the sack earlier than that, which would still be a big shock in my opinion, his legacy would be centred around how he dealt with Jadon Sancho and the fallout from that, letting a young, talented, expensive player join another big club.
Other than that, there is not a standout game or signing that they wouldn’t have produced without Ten Hag, even if he has played his part in bringing some average players to the club.
It is a shame because he is not a bad manager. That squad needs a massive revamp and if you are a new owner, are you going to trust the same manager to do that?
He may not have necessarily helped Ten Hag in the short term so far but making the investment in Hojlund and looking to the future was needed.
They have seen what happens when they get it wrong — just look at Anthony Martial.
The two goals Hojlund has in his last three games shows the potential and ability he has and another one against Newport can send him on a real positive run.
It was interesting that United were linked with Karim Benzema but are not prepared to even consider it. That would have been a no-brainer 18 months ago.
It suggests they are now going in a different direction, not wanting to splash cash on an over-30 superstar in a quick-fix scheme.
The same goes for the links with Callum Wilson, who would add value in the short term.
If you are committed to Hojlund, don’t bring in someone like Wilson. It would be a confusing and conflicting message.
I still feel the class and experience of Benzema would be great for United but, again, if they are planning for the future, he is not the right target. Even if he would act as a top mentor for Hojlund.
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