Man Utd ‘exactly where we want to be’ insists Ten Hag amid sack talk after FA Cup triumph

Will Ford
Ten Hag Man Utd
Erik ten Hag has won two trophies in two seasons as Man Utd boss.

Erik ten Hag pledged to go on winning trophies elsewhere if Manchester United sack him after masterminding a shock FA Cup win against rivals Manchester City.

A poor second season has seen speculation about the Dutchman’s future intensify, peaking on the eve of the final as it was reported he would be sacked regardless of the result at Wembley.

Few predicted anything other than City completing another domestic double but United had other ideas.

Teenage stars Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo put the underdogs in dreamland, with the Red Devils digging deep after Jeremy Doku’s late strike to seal a 2-1 win and second trophy in as many years.

‘We are exactly where we want to be’

But whether FA Cup glory is enough for ambitious Ineos to keep on under-fire Ten Hag remains to be seen.

“I don’t think about this,” the United manager said. “I’m in a project and we are exactly where we want to be. We’re constructing a team.

“When I took over it was a mess at United and we are on our way to construct a team for the future, and that will go with ups and downs.

“What you see is the team is developing, the team is winning. At the end of the day it’s about winning trophies, and the team also plays through an identity.

“But you need the players to be available, you need a strong squad in top football, especially when you play in England.

“There is still a lot of work to do but we have a value in the squad, we have high potentials who are progressing very good.

“Two trophies in two years, it’s not bad. Three finals is not bad. But we have to keep going.

“If they don’t want me any more, then I go anywhere else to win trophies because that is what I did my whole career.”

The sign-off was an eye-catching remark that Ten Hag repeated twice more in a post-match press conference he entered without the trophy, unlike after last year’s Carabao Cup triumph.

They also finished third and reached the FA Cup final in a promising first campaign for Ten Hag but ended this term in eighth – their lowest finish of the Premier League era.

An eye-watering injury list offers mitigation and Saturday’s win underlined Ten Hag’s capabilities, but whether it proves too late to save his job remains to be seen.

Sir Alex Ferguson called it a “fantastic” triumph as the beaming former United boss left the Wembley tunnel, but Sir Jim Ratcliffe offered no comment on the manager’s future.

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What will Ratcliffe do now?

The United co-owner also did not mention his name in a statement released moments later, doing little to allay concerns Ten Hag could be fired after winning the FA Cup as compatriot Louis van Gaal was in 2016.

“It is a glorious feeling to win the FA Cup final at Wembley,” Ratcliffe said.

“Manchester United clearly were not the favourites to win today but they played with total commitment and skill and overcame one of the great teams in football.

“We are all very proud of the players and the staff who work tirelessly to support them.”

Ten Hag claimed in an interview released on the day of the game that Ineos told him they wanted to work with him moving forwards, and became irked when asked to clarify when Ratcliffe’s team had said it.

“How many times do I have to tell you this? Every time it’s the same question,” Ten Hag said. “Do I have to repeat myself 10 times, 15 times, 20 times?

“They don’t have to tell me every week, eh? If they tell me so often.

“When they don’t want me any more then I will hear it, but they told me many times (they did).”

The pre-match speculation and post-match line of questioning somewhat took the edge off a special win as United’s men followed in the footsteps of their FA Cup-winning women’s team.

“It’s always difficult to compare but the FA Cup was absolutely one on my bucket list,” Ten Hag said.

“I think that it’s such a huge trophy. I am so, so happy that we won this trophy with the players, the team and the staff because I think it’s really a team performance.”