Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag told he ‘played a blinder’ to win FA Cup for Man Utd; Rooney doubts Ratcliffe will change sack decision

Erik ten Hag lifting FA Cup

Ten Hag has won the FA Cup for Man Utd but can it keep him in a job?

Erik ten Hag has received widespread praise for the way he set Manchester United up to win the FA Cup at the expense of rivals Manchester City in what could have been his farewell to the club.

Manchester United went into the game as the outsiders for the trophy after finishing considerably behind City in the Premier League table. Furthermore, reports before the game indicated it was likely to be Ten Hag’s last in charge of the club, regardless of the outcome.

However, United stunned their rivals by taking the lead through Alejandro Garnacho, and Kobbie Mainoo doubled the advantage before half time.

City did pull one back via Jeremy Doku, but it was just a consolation. At full-time, United could celebrate winning the FA Cup for the first time since 2016.

That time, Louis van Gaal was the manager lifting the trophy, and he was sacked days later. The questions will now linger as to whether Ten Hag could face an identical fate.

United’s all-time record scorer, Wayne Rooney, does not believe Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s decision makers will be calling Ten Hag’s fate based on one match, as positive an occasion as it was.

Rooney said on BBC One: “Tactically it was perfect today. There has been a lot of talk. You just hope now he can enjoy tonight.

“Whatever happens after, you hope it’s done quickly, but he’s shown a lot of character today to put his team out the way he did.

“I don’t think they can make a decision on one game. Throughout the season, of course Manchester United have to do better than what they’ve done.

“I think what they’ve done today is finish the season on a high, in a historic moment winning the FA Cup again. It’s great for the club.

“I’m sure whatever they do, they’ll know what they’re doing and hopefully it’s the right decision.”

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Ten Hag hasn’t met all expectations this season, but has at least ticked one objective off.

Rooney added: “That’s expected at a club like Manchester United – you have to win. And obviously Manchester United finishing eighth in the Premier League is not good enough. I’m sure Erik ten Hag would say that himself.

“But I think to end the season winning the FA Cup, end on a high, send the fans into the summer ready to watch the European Championships in a good mood and ready for next season.

“Whatever happens with Ten Hag now, I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough, but he can certainly hold his head up high at today’s game and go out with a bang if that’s what’s going to happen.”

Could trophy keep Ten Hag in job?

Presenter Gary Lineker, though, suggested that winning a trophy in each of his two seasons in charge was achievement enough by Ten Hag.

Lineker posed: “He won a trophy last season, he won a trophy this season. I know their position in the league is eighth, but it’s about trophies and winning things, isn’t it?”

And former City defender Micah Richards responded by setting out Ten Hag’s task if he was to stay at the club.

Richards replied: “I think going forward now, if he were to stay, it’s about, can they put these performances week in, week out?

“Today I think we’ve seen structure, I think we saw a gameplan, we saw the players buying into what he wanted to do. We know they were up against a great opposition, but everyone knew their jobs and they didn’t stop, from the players who started to the subs who’ve come on, everyone gave their bit for the game today.”

Whatever his fate, Ten Hag deserves respect for the challenges he has faced, the pundit added.

Richards continued: “He’s had to deal with a lot of criticism, Ten Hag. We’ve questioned his tactics as pundits. We’ve talked about the trophies, can he do it on the big day? He’s won two trophies, gets one today, and I think we need to start respecting what he’s done because he’s had a lot of obstacles in his way.

“It’s a delightful day for him and fair play to him because against a great Pep, he could have rolled over, but he didn’t. I’m delighted for him personally.”

 

And Alan Shearer was vocal in his praise of Ten Hag’s setup for the final, concluding: “I think he played a blinder today. He really did. They were under huge pressure so to set his team up the way he did…

“It was no fluke today. No fluke at all. They thoroughly deserved it. They were the better team, the way they stuck together, the way they narrowed the spaces and didn’t give anything, the way they closed down, the way they won every tackle, and then when they could they would hit them on the break and the switch of play – all of that, particularly first half, was magnificent.”

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