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  • Sports - Football - Gossips
  • Updated: April 21, 2024

FA Cup: Erik ten Hag defends players after win over Coventry 

FA Cup: Erik ten Hag defends players after win over Coventry

Erik ten Hag has leapt to the defence of his Manchester United players in the aftermath of the penalty shootout victory over Coventry City at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening.

United will face city rivals Manchester City in the final of the competition in May.

United were 3-0 ahead but the Championship side came from behind to draw 3-3 and force the kicks after extra time could not produce a winner in 120 minutes. 

The United boss faced the media Sunday night in his post-match press conference and was asked questions about the scare given to his side by the roaring Sky Blues.

“It was an incredible game, a strange game too. We had total control for so long and then gave it away in the last part of the game. We did show resilience to win the penalty shootout, the Dutchman began with an analysis of how the game developed.

“We had control for 75 minutes and have to give Coventry a compliment for what they did in the last 15 minutes. We have to improve. We talk a lot about this. First, you have to put yourself in a winning position but then you have to take it over the line. In these moments we are making mistakes and not keeping our responsibilities.

The former Ajax manager then made an emphatic statement on the mental fortitude of his players.

“We can’t say this group doesn’t have the right mentality because they showed character today, but in the final part, there was a lack of discipline. We have to keep the ball, keep making passes, go for goal and then also be strong in defence. It’s about communication and we have to improve on this.”

On the feeling in the group after the game: “It’s mixed feelings. We can be happy with the achievement, getting to the final, that’s huge.

“Even the big Manchester United only achieved it three times and we achieved it twice in two years. We need to win that final though. When we are 100% in it then we can do it.”

Ten Hag’s future may be in doubt following recent unconvincing results of late.

On whether they need to win the FA Cup for it to be a successful season, Ten Hag said: “I want to win it. I’m sure we have a good chance to win this final, although we play the best team in the world.

“We do have a chance though. We showed that this season. This season has had many ups but also many downs. Winning the FA Cup doesn’t make it successful, we want to win more.

“We have been in three finals in two years, which is good, but we had a lot of setbacks this season. We’ve had a lot of injuries and hopefully, those players can be back for the final. If we go with a squad who believe then we have a chance to win a trophy.”

The Dutchman insists his players don’t have a “mentality” problem after Manchester United survived an almighty scare to progress to the FA Cup final on penalties after Coventry fell agonisingly short of a sensational comeback win at Wembley.

Ten Hag’s team were three up and cruising through to the May 25 final after goals from Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes put them on course for what at that stage looked a routine win.

But Mark Robins’ side, who are eighth in the second tier, roared back with a recovery that almost defied belief.

First, Ellis Simms converted a cross at the near post on 70 minutes to make it 3-1, then Callum O’Hare’s strike looped in off Aaron Wan-Bissaka to rattle United and spark a frantic finish that saw Haji Wright convert a spot kick to take the game to extra time.

United rode their luck, eventually triumphing on penalties, and after the game, Ten Hag admitted his side “have to improve” but also insisted they “showed character”.

Ten Hag said: “It was an incredible game, a strange game too. We had total control for so long and then gave it away in the last part of the game. We did show resilience to win the penalty shootout.

“We had control for 75 minutes and have to give Coventry a compliment for what they did in the last 15 minutes. We have to improve. We talk a lot about this. First, you have to put yourself in a winning position but then you have to take it over the line. In these moments we are making mistakes and not keeping our responsibilities.

“We can’t say this group doesn’t have the right mentality because they showed character today, but in the final part, there was a lack of discipline. We have to keep the ball, keep making passes, go for goal and then also be strong in defence. It’s about communication and we have to improve on this.”

Ten Hag admitted his team has “mixed feelings” after the game, but believes getting to another Wembley final is a “huge” achievement.

On the feeling in the group after the game: “It’s mixed feelings. We can be happy with the achievement, getting to the final, that’s huge.

“Even the big Manchester United only achieved it three times and we achieved it twice in two years. We need to win that final though. When we are 100% in it then we can do it.”

Ten Hag’s future is in doubt at United following the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and with the co-owner in attendance at Wembley, this game – despite the victory – is unlikely to be a feather in the Dutchman’s cap.

On whether they need to win the FA Cup for it to be a successful season, Ten Hag said: “I want to win it. I’m sure we have a good chance to win this final, although we play the best team in the world.

“We do have a chance though. We showed that this season. This season has had many ups but also many downs. Winning the FA Cup doesn’t make it successful, we want to win more.

“We have been in three finals in two years, which is good, but we had a lot of setbacks this season. We’ve had a lot of injuries and hopefully, those players can be back for the final. If we go with a squad who believe then we have a chance to win a trophy.”

United will be guaranteed qualification to the Europa League if they defeat Man City in the FA Cup final.

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