Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag unsure of future despite FA Cup win over rivals City

Youngsters Garnacho and Mainoo strike to settle derby clash in showpiece final

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag batted away questions about his future after masterminding a shock FA Cup final win against rivals Manchester City on Saturday.

The build-up to the second successive all-Manchester final was overshadowed by speculation over the Dutchman’s position after reports suggested he would be sacked regardless of the outcome at Wembley.

But, if it was his last game in charge, United impressed as teenage stars Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo struck to establish a 2-0 lead, with the side digging deep to triumph 2-1 after City substitute Jeremy Doku’s late effort.

It was Ten Hag's second piece of silverware in as many seasons, but time will tell whether the trophy and Europa League qualification will be enough to save him, after limping home eighth in the league.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos was joined in the crowd by Joel and Avram Glazer at Wembley, where United’s co-owners could not fail to have been impressed by Ten Hag’s tactics and his side’s commitment.

Asked if this was his last game as United boss, Ten Hag said: "I don’t know. The only thing I’m doing is preparing my team, developing my team. This is a project for me. When I came in I can say it was a mess. Now we are better. We are not where we want to be.

"Football is about winning trophies. I want to play the best football, dynamic, attacking football, but in the end you have to win games and trophies. That’s the mentality we brought in. This was our one opportunity and we did it. I‘m very proud of the players and staff."

The former Ajax coach added: "All compliments to the team. We played very good to our identity. Very strong. You have seen how we can play when we have the players on board. Some were not even match fit but the performance was very good.

"I tell you [media] this all year - when the players are fit we can play good football. A very good performance against the best team in the world.

"With a local rivalry it’s there and it’s much more important when you play a team from your own city. But for us it wasn’t about this, it was to prove a point after so many setbacks. The team showed so much resilience and I’m proud of them."

City were heavy favourites to become the first English side to win back-to-back domestic doubles, fresh from sealing an unprecedented fourth straight top-flight title - but there appeared to be a hangover.

United, by contrast, were well-drilled and determined, with Garnacho exploiting a defensive error to put Ten Hag’s side into a shock lead. Diogo Dalot’s diagonal pass behind City left-back Josko Gvardiol caused problems, and the Croatian headed over keeper Stefan Ortega. The 19-year-old Garnacho tucked home the loose ball.

United fans rejoiced again in the 37th minute, but Rashford’s tap-in was chalked off for an offside in the build-up. It was a warning shot that City failed to heed as United struck again.

Garnacho collected Rashford’s cross-field ball, once again behind Gvardiol, and played on to Bruno Fernandes, whose sublime pass put in Mainoo to coolly beat Ortega.

It was a first half few saw coming and Doku was part of a double half-time alteration from City, with the rapid Belgian passing for Haaland to hit the bar in the 55th minute.

Substitute Julian Alvarez missed City's best chance after being set up by Doku. Onana then stopped a low Kyle Walker drive as time ebbed away, but he will be disappointed to have let in Doku’s low strike at his near post in the 87th minute. The nerves were palpable, but United held on for a stunning upset.

Updated: May 25, 2024, 6:47 PM