24.02.2023 16:01 h

Ten Hag warns League Cup final referee of 'annoying' Newcastle time-wasting

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has warned match officials to be wary of Newcastle's "annoying" time-wasting in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

United will be bidding to end their six-year wait for a trophy against a club that last lifted a major honour back in 1969.

Newcastle, who now have the backing of wealthy Saudi owners, have won plaudits for their rise to fifth place in the Premier League under English manager Eddie Howe.

But the northeast side have also been accused of deliberately slowing the game down in a concerted effort to frustrate their opponents.

"I think it's a great team with a clear philosophy about how they want to play the game," Ten Hag said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"They're an annoying team to play against, so we have to find a way to win."

Ten Hag's remarks were reminiscent of the pre-match "mind games" used by his celebrated Old Trafford predecessor Alex Ferguson -- whom the Dutchman had dinner with earlier this week.

And Ten Hag made sure David Coote, the referee for Sunday's showpiece match, got the message loud and clear.

When asked if his "annoying" remark was a reference to Newcastle's slow play, he replied "for instance" before explaining: "The referees want to play effective time. They (Newcastle) have the lowest in the league and they are quite successful with it.

"So it's up to us that we get speed in the game but also we are then dependent on the refereeing as well."

Statistics compiled by data group Opta show Leeds have had the ball in play marginally less than Newcastle over the course of the Premier League season.

Opta also said the ball was "in-play" for 53.4 percent of the match when United were held to a goalless draw by Newcastle at Old Trafford in October.

Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope has been accused of playing his part in slowing the game down but he is suspended for Sunday's game as a result of a straight red card for handball against Liverpool last weekend.

United travel to Wembley boosted by Thursday's 2-1 comeback win at home to Barcelona that completed a 4-3 aggregate Europa League success against the Spanish giants.

But they could be without the in-form Marcus Rashford, who was substituted in the 88th minute at Old Trafford.

The forward, 25, hinted on Instagram he had suffered an injury, posting an image of himself walking down the touchline looking in discomfort accompanied with a bandage emoji.

Asked if Rashford could feature at Wembley, Ten Hag replied: "I don't know. So, players now are coming in. We have to do investigations."