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Erik ten Hag sack: Bruno Fernandes comes out swinging in staunch defence of Man Utd boss

Bruno Fernandes, Erik ten Hag

Bruno Fernandes hails Ten Hag after FA Cup win

Bruno Fernandes leapt to the defence of under-pressure Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag after claiming the Dutchman fully ‘deserved’ to get his hands on the FA Cup after the surprise win over Manchester City on Saturday.

First-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo stunned the holders, with United gaining sweet revenge over their neighbours after losing the all-Manchester affair at Wembley last season.

Erling Haaland rattled the crossbar before second-half substitute Jeremy Doku halved the deficit in the 87th minute, but City were unable to find an equaliser to leave the Red Devils celebrating winning the trophy for the 13th time – securing a Europa League spot in the process.

Speculation over Ten Hag’s future had reached fever pitch during the build-up to the game and it was evident that United’s players were putting it all on the line for their beleaguered in an outstanding first-half display that saw them two goals up.

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And while City did hit back in an improved second-half display, United just about held on to give Ten Hag what looks like a fitting send-off.

Indeed, Ten Hag himself admitted afterwards that if the club no longer want him then he will “go somewhere else and win trophies” instead.

It’s now expected that Ten Hag will be relieved of his duties, which was always the case regardless of Saturday’s result, and Fernandes was asked whether the victory will have been extra special for Ten Hag.

The United skipper told BBC Sport: “It’s special for everyone. Obviously we know the manager is under too much scrutiny but it’s part of being at Manchester United. Players, staff, we all know that we’re going to be under this.

“This manager is experienced enough and he knows. He deserves also. Everyone today, the staff, the backroom, everyone, the football players, we all deserve this.”

An emotional Fernandes was relieved and overjoyed to be on the winning team at Wembley after being forced to watch City’s players lift the trophy just a year ago..

The Portugal international added: “Obviously it’s a long season. It was difficult. It was our last chance to get something positive from the season.

“We’ve been here last year and we were not good enough to go to the stands and lift the trophy, we had to see them go and do that. This season it’s the other way around.

“We played a great team, they have great quality, great players, a great manager. We had to suffer, we had to sacrifice, but we had to produce also some quality in the game and we did great things.”

Mainoo the magnificent shines at Wembley

United’s win came in no small part to the outstanding midfield presence of Kobbie Mainoo, who scored what turned out to be the winner and arguably the best player on the pitch.

“He’s really good. He’s such a quality player,” Fernandes said of Mainoo.

“To see the composure on the finishing that he has.

“But part of the DNA of this club is the young players coming through the academy and once more, on the biggest stage of the world, they show it again.”

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All that remains now is just how long United will wait before pulling the trigger on Ten Hag and then appointing his successor.

Names in the running from the role include the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel, Thomas Frank and Kieran McKenna.