Erik Ten Hag guides Manchester United to 13th FA Cup victory amid rumours of his exit
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Erik Ten Hag guides Manchester United to 13th FA Cup victory amid rumours of his exit

26/05/24 07:46

Manchester United defied the odds in an inspired performance at Wembley despite the growing expectation that Ten Hag will be dismissed in the summer regardless of the result.

If the Dutchman is to depart Old Trafford in the coming days, he will do so following one of the finest performances of his two-year reign. United were unrecognisable following their lowest Premier League finish in history, superior to City all over the pitch.

Sensational performances from youngsters Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho inspired United to FA Cup glory, denying City a successive domestic double.

United took the lead with half an hour played when Garnacho took advantage of a mix-up between City keeper Stefan Ortega and defender Josko Gvardiol in an uncharacteristic mistake from the City defence.

Mainoo added a second nine minutes later with an assured finish after a sensational pass from captain Bruno Fernandes found the youngster in space inside the penalty box.

Guardiola’s side inevitably improved after the break with Erling Haaland striking the woodwork and Julian Alvarez missing a great chance to pull one back. City eventually got on the scoresheet when substitute Jeremy Doku fired past Andre Onana with 87 minutes played.

The Red Devils managed to survive a late barrage of pressure from City and claim their first FA Cup final victory since 2016. Ten Hag’s tactical approach denied City any space with Pep Guardiola’s side struggling to find their rhythm. The Dutchman got his tactics spot on despite widespread criticism of his approach throughout the season.

United played without a recognised striker with Ten Hag deploying a 4-2-2-2 formation, packing the midfield, and ensuring United were compact and difficult to break down. It was a defensive masterclass with United winning 15 tackles and making 35 clearances during the 90 minutes.

Ten Hag was elated at full time with celebrations indicating his commitment to his job at Man Utd.

Speaking on his future post-match he said “Two trophies in two years is not bad, three finals in two years is not bad. I’m not satisfied with it. We have to do better.” “If they don’t want me, then I go somewhere else to win trophies because that is what I do.”

Ten Hag was in a defiant mood taking aim at some of the criticism he and his team have faced.

He added, “When I took over, we were a mess. The team is developing, the team is winning, and the team plays to an identity. But you need a strong squad and the players to be available.”

Despite United’s poor league campaign, they were hit with an injury crisis for large parts of the season which resulted in 15 different centre back partnerships. This has no doubt affected Ten Hag’s plans with pairing Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez putting in standout performances in their return to the side for the final. Ten Hag’s future will be decided by INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe following a new footballing structure at the club.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Lewis Carr

Football Writer

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