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Erik ten Hag in the firing line despite Man United’s FA Cup victory over Man City

Erik ten Hag in the firing line despite Man United’s FA Cup victory over Man City
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag watches the FA Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley in London on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Robin Jones / Getty Images)

Manchester United won their second trophy in two seasons after defeating Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday. Despite this success, United’s manager, Erik ten Hag, may soon be booted out of the club.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said before the FA Cup final against Manchester City on Saturday that his charges always play well when they are underdogs. His troops proved him right when they upset Pep Guardiola’s side 2-1 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

United’s thoroughly deserved victory came courtesy of a strike from each of their teenage starlets Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho. Belgian Jérémy Doku scored City’s consolation goal in the dying minutes, but the Red Devils held on to clinch a second major trophy in as many seasons.

It was an impressive feat considering that the decorated club went six years without silverware before Dutch tactician Ten Hag masterminded a 2-0 win in the 2023 Carabao Cup final against Newcastle United.

With victory over City, Ten Hag and his men avenged last season’s disappointment in the final of the same competition, which their crosstown rivals clinched 2-1. 

Erik ten Hag

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag celebrates after their FA Cup victory over Manchester City at Wembley in London on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Alex Pantling / Getty Images )

Manchester United fans at the FA Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley in London on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Alex Pantling / Getty Images )

It was also United’s third final in two seasons and their 13th FA Cup title. Only Arsenal, with 14, have enjoyed more success in the oldest cup competition in soccer.

United’s latest Cup success somewhat plasters over what has been a poor season overall. Their inconsistency in the league saw them finishing a lowly eighth this season. 

It’s the lowest United have finished in the Premier League era (since 1992). During Alex Ferguson’s tenure as manager, the red side of Manchester never finished below third spot in the Premier League.

In addition to rewriting history for the wrong reasons in the league, United also bombed out in the group phase of the 2023/2024 Uefa Champions League, finishing at the basement of their group after recording just one win, plus one draw and four losses from their six mini-league games.

Kyle Walker of Manchester City and Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United during the FA Cup final at Wembley in London on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Robin Jones / Getty Images)

Manchester United fans celebrate during the FA Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley in London on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay)

Erik ten Hag

Manchester United’s Sofyan Amrabat celebrates with the trophy after their FA Cup victory over Manchester City at Wembley on 25 May 2023. (Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay)

Foggy future

This is why, despite this Cup success, Ten Hag’s future as the United manager remains foggy at best, with British media reporting that his days at Old Trafford will soon be over. 

United’s season was poor by the high standards the club has set for itself through constant success over the last few decades.

Ten Hag — whose contract runs until 2025 — was upbeat when he spoke of the strides the team has made since he was appointed in 2022.       

“We are constructing a team. When I took over, it was a mess at Man United. We are now on our way to constructing a team for the future,” he said.

“There will be ups and downs. But you see, the team is developing. And the team is winning. At the end of the day, it is about winning trophies.   

“The team is progressing, and we are winning trophies. Two trophies in two years is not bad. Three finals is not bad. But we have to keep going. I’m not satisfied with it. 

“We have to do better and if the [United hierarchy does not] want me any more, then I’ll go somewhere else to win trophies. Because that is what I have done my whole career.” 

With this FA Cup triumph, Ten Hag joins Portuguese great José Mourinho in being the most successful Red Devils manager, in terms of trophies, since Ferguson retired in 2013. Mourinho also led United to two pieces of hardware — securing a Carabao Cup and Europa League double in the 2016/2017 season.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag and Lisandro Martinez celebrate after winning the FA Cup on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge)

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford in action with Manchester City’s Kyle Walker during the FA Cup final at Wembley on 25 May 2024. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge)

City were seeking to add to their historic fourth Premier League title in a row before finding a spirited United team.  

“We are disappointed,” Guardiola said. “But it is normal for teams to lose finals. This season has been extraordinary, the way we have been fighting for all the trophies. We will rest and come back next season.” 

This was just the second of nine major finals that Guardiola has lost as City manager. His only other defeat came when the Sky Blues lost the Champions League final to Chelsea in 2021. DM

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  • Syd Boston says:

    One of the better performances from Utd this season (ensuring that it’s not all one way traffic for the blue half of Manchester). Winning a trophy like the FA Cup used to just about “sack-proof” a manager, however those days are long gone. You fear for Ten Hag now, even though imo sacking him is not the answer to Utd’s problems. Having watched Utd a number of times this season imo many of the players in this current squad have a lot to answer for. Time will tell…

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