Marc Skinner: ‘It would be a mockery’ if Man United exit Conti Cup

Marc Skinner looks on during a Manchester United match
Marc Skinner looks on prior to the Women's Super League match between Manchester United and Everton FC at Leigh Sports Village on February 05, 2023 (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

As the final whistle blew in the Manchester Derby, it appeared that Marc Skinner and Manchester United would progress to the quarter-finals as the best runner-up in the Continental Cup. However, news quickly began to spread regarding a situation in Aston Villa’s match against Sunderland that could prevent the Reds from reaching the final eight of the competition.

Noëlle Maritz’s inclusion in Villa’s match day squad was in breach of the competition’s rules regarding cup-tied players. The midfielder had featured for Arsenal on several occasions earlier in the campaign, leaving her ineligible to compete in this year’s competition for Carla Ward’s side.

The FA will now investigate the situation, with Villa citing an ‘administrative error’. The outcome of the investigation could have profound consequences for several clubs, including Manchester United.

A potential ruling could see Villa forced to turn over the three points to Sunderland. Such a penalty would see Sunderland top Group A, with Ward’s side potentially going through to the quarter-finals as one of the top two runners-up. Tottenham’s recent victory against Southampton would then be enough to knock United out of the competition altogether.

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“We need to progress to the quarter-finals”

Speaking after their defeat to Man City on Wednesday night, Man United boss Skinner was keen to share his thoughts on the situation.

“What has to happen, in my opinion, and in fairness of the game and the spirit of the game, is that Manchester United should be the runners-up and go through to the knockout stages. That has to happen in my opinion. We’ve fought ever so hard in this competition. We’ve dropped one game against Manchester City away. We need to progress to the quarter-finals.”

The Man United boss was then quizzed on whether rules regarding player eligibility were made clear to coaches.

“We are aware, of course we’re aware, you have to be aware. Mistakes can happen, of course, but that should not be at the detriment of Manchester United. Not with how hard we’ve fought. I think it would be a mockery of the league if we did that, and of what we’re trying to achieve in football.

“I suggest that we need to make sure Manchester United go through, especially with how hard we’ve had to work for it.”

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