Coventry City v Manchester United: FA Cup semi-final – live | FA Cup

Key events

Blunt and to the point

The ITV pundits are having a chat on the pitch. Ian Wright is sporting orange specs, Roy Keane brown suede shoes, and Karen Carney a cream suit. When the conversation turns to United, Carney doesn’t hold back. “They’re not a good team,” she says. “They have good individuals.”

This is only the second FA Cup semi-final in Coventry’s history. For their opponents, it’s the 32nd (a record). United are pretty good at semi-finals, winning 21 of those 32 games, but Coventry are flawless. Their lone appearance came back in 1987, en route to a famous triumph (and in the wake of a win over United, in the third round at Old Trafford). They beat Leeds 3-2 in the semi at Hillsborough with the winner coming in the 99th minute, then beat Spurs 3-2 in the final with the winner coming in the 96th minute. There seems to be a pattern here.

Full marks if you know the names on the United bench. It’s basically a school trip, with Christian Eriksen cast as the long-suffering teacher.

This is thought to be the 28th different back four Man United have fielded since the start of the season. And it will surely be the slowest pair of centre-backs, with the stately Harry Maguire joined by the even statelier Casemiro. Can they make up for that with their vast experience? And can Kobbie Mainoo, who has only ever played at Wembley for England, step into Casemiro’s shoes as the player shielding the defence?


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Teams in full

Manchester United (probable 4-2-3-1) Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Casemiro, Maguire, Dalot; McTominay, Mainoo; Garnacho, Fernandes, Rashford; Højlund.

Subs: Bayindir, Ogunneye, Jackson, Amass, Eriksen, Forson, Antony, Amad, Wheatley.

Coventry (probable 4-3-1-2) Collins; Latibeaudiere, Thomas, Kitching, Bidwell; Van Ewijk, Eccles, Sheaf; O’Hare; Wright, Simms.

Subs: Wilson, Binks, Kelly, Dasilva, Allen, Torp, Tavares, Andrews, Godden.

Teams in brief: O’Hare and Eccles come in for Coventry

Mark Robins makes two changes, bringing Josh Eccles and Callum O’Hare in for Victor Torp and the suspended Kasey Palmer.

Teams in brief: United down to one fit centre-back

Willy Kambwals joins United’s interminable injury list, along with Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat. So Harry Maguire, himself a doubt until recently, is United’s last centre-back standing. Scott McTominay comes into the starting XI with Casemiro expected to drop back into the back four. Ellis Simms will be licking his lips.


Afternoon everyone and welcome to the Mark Robins derby. The FA Cup is all about storylines and this semi-final is all about one of the managers, even if he insists that it’s not.

Robins has gone from suddenly scoring the FA Cup goal that famously bought Alex Ferguson the time to become a legend, back in 1990, to slowly becoming a bit of a legend himself. Seven years into his second stint at Coventry, he’s the longest-serving manager in the land after Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. In the Championship, where bosses often last five minutes, he’s the longest-serving manager by nearly five years.

He is particularly adept at spotting and developing strikers. Last season it was Victor Gyökeres, bought from Brighton for £1m, sold to Sporting Lisbon for £19m, now valued at £50m and linked with Arsenal. This season it’s been Ellis Simms, bought from Everton for £6m, knocking in the goals ever since – he has 15 in 2024, the same as Cole Palmer. Five of those goals have come in the FA Cup, including the 97th-minute winner in the quarter-final at Wolves.

If Man United had Simms on their staff, Rasmus Højlund would not be starting today. Even more than most strikers, Højlund lurches from helping himself to going hungry, and his plate has been empty since he returned from injury seven games ago. It’s not just that he can’t find the net: he struggles to find the ball. At Bournemouth last weekend he played the full 109 minutes without producing a shot or even a shot-creating action.

United are still firm favourites today, for good reasons. They have more star quality, they’re used to the big occasion, they have the stronger bench, and under Erik ten Hag they’ve been highly efficient in the domestic cups (W15, D1, L2), with a spotless record against clubs from the lower divisions.

Coventry, though, will really fancy this. They have nothing to lose, they’ll get umpteen chances, their manager is in full command of his ship, and their win at Molyneux was every bit as thrilling as United’s against Liverpool. It’s true that they always seem to concede a goal, but then United usually concede two.

The kick-off is at 3.30pm (BST) and I’ll be back soon with the teams.

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