FA Cup final: Writing is on the wall for Erik ten Hag

Manchester United manager edges closer to the exit as rivals City look to continue brilliant run

Erik ten Hag is likely to manage Manchester United for the last time when his team take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday. PA
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It is now or never for Manchester United and Erik ten Hag as both looked to salvage what has been a disastrous season in the FA Cup final against rivals Manchester City on Saturday.

Ten Hag is fighting to avoid the sack after his side finished eighth in the Premier League - their lowest final position since 1990.

United can still qualify for next season's Europa League if they beat the odds and deny favourites Man City a second successive domestic double at Wembley after Pep Guardiola's team surged to their fourth straight Premier League triumph on Sunday.

However, reports suggest Ten Hag is expected to be shown the door by the club irrespective of the result this weekend.

Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Kieran McKenna are among the names being linked with the Old Trafford hot seat.

When asked whether this weekend's final could be his last match as United manager, the Dutchman said: "I have nothing to say.

"I am just focusing on the job I have to do and that is first win the game on Saturday and then we are in the project. Keep going in the project."

Pushed on how he wants his time at United to be judged, Ten Hag added: "I came here to win trophies.

"Saturday I have the next opportunity and we earned this opportunity as a team and now we have to go for it.

"At the same time, in the last two years, of course after every season you review it and then we will see where we are in the project and things we have to change.

"We spoke lately about it. Underneath there are very good things - players coming up, players developing, values coming up."

His counterpart Guardiola said he has "huge respect" for Ten Hag despite a terrible season, which is in stark contrast to that of their neighbours.

City are celebrating an unprecedented fourth straight English top-flight crown and will become the first team to win the league and FA Cup in successive seasons if they triumph at Wembley.

Guardiola's men will start as hot favourites against United, who have lost six out of their past seven meetings in all competitions against their fierce rivals.

Guardiola has sympathy for Ten Hag after his second season in charge was marred by injuries to a host of key players.

"In the big clubs like United and City, when you don't win you are always in trouble. That's not a secret," Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"I have a huge respect for his job in the past, and now in United. I completely agree when I listen to him say they have not had a full squad - lots of injuries.

"They have a lot of problems and when that happens the manager suffers a lot because the squad is really good. The problem when you are injured you cannot use them and this a big, big disadvantage."

Meanwhile, United goalkeeper Andre Onana praised under-fire Ten Hag.

Asked if there is extra pressure due to the importance of the match, goalkeeper Onana wagged his finger and said: "It's not extra pressure, it's extra motivation for us.

"Because we have our fans there. We lost twice against City already. We know how good they are. Best team at the moment - all of our respect - but we go there to win. A final.

"I will always remember (last year) we played better than City, but they won. People always remember the winners. We go there to make history to win."

Updated: May 24, 2024, 3:02 PM