Erik ten Hag Leads Manchester United to FA Cup Victory Amid Job Speculation

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LONDON — If this was Erik ten Hag’s final game as Manchester United’s manager, it was a spectacular farewell. Amid intense speculation about his future, Ten Hag guided United to a stunning 2-1 victory over defending champion Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

After receiving his medal from Prince William, the Dutchman celebrated his second trophy in as many seasons, capping off a tumultuous campaign on a high note. But will this triumph be enough to secure his position?

“I’m not satisfied with it, we have to do better, and if they don’t want me anymore then I’ll go somewhere else to win trophies because that is what I did my whole career,” a defiant Ten Hag told BBC. “We are constructing a team and when I took over it was a mess at Manchester United.”

United secured the win with first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo. Despite City’s relentless pressure in the second half and a late goal from substitute Jeremy Doku, United held on for the victory.

The club’s owners, including new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe, watched from the executive seats at Wembley. Ratcliffe, who purchased a 27.7% stake in United in February, is overseeing a major overhaul of the club, sparking widespread speculation that Ten Hag might be the next casualty.

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

This victory not only deprived City of achieving back-to-back English league and cup doubles but also secured United’s qualification for the Europa League next season.

City manager Pep Guardiola admitted his game plan fell short. “My game plan was not good,” he said.

Ten Hag’s tactics were spot on, with United absorbing pressure and seizing control by halftime. Garnacho opened the scoring in the 30th minute, capitalizing on a defensive error to tap into an open net. Nine minutes later, a slick attack led to Mainoo coolly slotting past City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, with Bruno Fernandes providing a no-look pass.

City, determined to retain their trophy, fought back hard. Doku’s 87th-minute long-range shot set up a tense finish. Erling Haaland hit the bar, Kyle Walker forced goalkeeper Andre Onana into two crucial saves, and substitute Julian Alvarez missed a close-range opportunity.

United’s FA Cup triumph marks their 13th, just one behind Arsenal’s record of 14, and Ten Hag’s second trophy after winning the League Cup last year. Players and staff embraced Ten Hag on the field after the final whistle, and fans cheered as he collected the trophy in front of the co-owners.

Despite this victory, United endured their worst league season in 34 years. “It’s been a tough season with ups and downs. This is the only thing we’ve had to look forward to,” Mainoo said. “We knew we had to come together. The preparation for this game has been amazing. We’ve shown we can compete and win games.” – AP