Erik ten Hag calls criticism of Man United scraping into FA Cup final 'a disgrace'

Premier League side needed penalty shoot-out to knock out second-tier Coventry City after throwing away three-goal lead

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Erik ten Hag has hit back at criticism of Manchester United's FA Cup semi-final win over Coventry City describing some of the reaction as “embarrassing” and “a disgrace”.

United secured their place in the FA Cup final for a second successive season – when they will again take on Manchester City – by the skin of their teeth after edging past Coventry 4-2 on penalties.

The Premier League side were 3-0 up and coasting before collapsing in spectacular fashion with Coventry fighting back with three unanswered goals to send the match into extra-time.

Both sides then hit the woodwork before Coventry thought they had grabbed a late winner when Victor Torp poked home to make it 4-3, only for VAR to rule Haji Wright had been narrowly offside in the build-up.

United then came out on top in the shoot-out to set up another all-Manchester final at Wembley Stadium on May 25. But criticism of United's second-half capitulation against a side eighth in the Championship table arrived thick and fast.

Former captain Roy Keane said United “looked like a Championship side” during the game.

“I don't like what I see from this United team,” he told ITV. “They are hard to like. They play in moments. We go on about leadership and character, but I don't see any of this from this United group. My goodness, they rode their luck at the end.”

Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was even more blunt in his assessment: “I don't see how Erik ten Hag stays. It's just performance after performance.

“What is it about Ten Hag that makes you think he's going to take Manchester United forward next season? I just don't see it.”

The Red Devils are currently seventh in the Premier League, 16 points shy of a top-four spot and could even miss out on European football next season if they lose the FA Cup final and league results fail to improve. They are currently without a win in four Premier League matches.

United's Champions League campaign was over in December when United finished bottom of their group behind Galatasaray, FC Copenhagen and table-topping Bayern Munich after winning just one game and losing four.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Premier League game at home to bottom club Sheffield United, Ten Hag was asked whether he could understand the negative reaction. “No. Absolutely not,” he said.

“You asked the question: 'is it embarrassing?' No, the reaction from you was embarrassing. It is the comments. Top football is about results, we made it to a final and we deserved it not only by this game but also the other games.

“We lost control for 20 minutes, we also had bad luck, 3-2, 3-3. We were very lucky in the end, it is clear. Penalties was very good and we made it to the final, it is a huge achievement. Twice, in two years, is magnificent. For me as a manager, four cup finals in four years.

“The comments are a disgrace.”

Ten Hag also came out in defence of Antony after the Brazilian was spotted cupping his ears at Coventry players following striker Rasmus Hojlund's winning penalty.

Ten Hag accepted Antony was wrong but claimed he was provoked, saying: “That's why, this was a reaction of that, you haven't seen the provocation, only the reaction. But he should not do it.

“I have seen Harry Maguire straight after and others, we should acknowledge the performance of Coventry to come into that … and the comeback. Also see we are 70 minutes totally dominating the game by far and creating many chances.

“At 3-0 it must have been the game is closed but the return from their side was very good.”

Apart from the cup final, United have six league games left to play this season, starting with the relegation-bound Blades at Old Trafford, and Ten Hag is under no illusion what is required.

“We have to win every game,” added the Dutch coach. “That's what United stands for, that is our approach, go from game to game but we have to qualify for Europe and we have two opportunities in the league and the FA Cup final.”

Ten Hag could be without Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford for Wednesday's game although Bruno Fernandes and Alejandro Garnacho are expected to be available despite picking up knocks at Wembley.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 12:50 PM