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New era at Man United begins with home loss to Fulham. Villa strengthens 4th place with win

Sat, Feb 24, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

New era at Man United begins with home loss to Fulham. Villa strengthens 4th place with win

The new era at Manchester United got off to a disappointing start as the team lost ground in the race for Champions League qualification with a 2-1 home loss against Fulham on Saturday.

The week started with new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe completing his purchase of a minority stake in United and boldly setting out a three-year plan to return the club to the top of English soccer, knocking local rivals Manchester City and Liverpool "off their perch" in the process. It ended with Erik ten Hag's side getting mostly outplayed in its own stadium by an opponent in the bottom half of the standings and conceding the deciding goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Not only did sixth-place United's four-game winning run in the league come to an end, fourth-place Aston Villa beat Nottingham Forest 4-2 and there is now an eight-point gap between the teams. Fifth-place Tottenham is three points ahead of United and has a game in hand.

It remains to be seen if the Premier League will have four or five places in next season's Champions League. Failing to qualify for the lucrative competition will be a huge blow to United's status and finances - and could yet spell the end for Ten Hag as Ratcliffe looks to raise the standards at the fallen giant.

READ MORE Aston Villa strengthens grip on fourth place in Premier League with 4-2 win over Nottingham Forest Raphinha stars as Barcelona beats Getafe 4-0 to move into 2nd place in Spain Iwobi scores stoppage-time winner as Fulham beats Man United 2-1 in Premier League

There could be more twists in the title race later Saturday, with second-place City away to Bournemouth and third-place Arsenal hosting Newcastle. City is four points behind Liverpool and Arsenal is a further point back.

In other results, relegation-threatened Everton conceded an equalizer in the sixth minute of stoppage time to draw 1-1 at Brighton and newly hired Crystal Palace manager Oliver Glasner's tenure got off to strong start as his team beat next-to-last Burnley 3-0.

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

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

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