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Man United boss Erik ten Hag claims rocky FA Cup semi-final victory over Coventry City ‘no shame’



Man United boss Erik ten Hag claims rocky FA Cup semi-final victory over Coventry City 'no shame'

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag tried to play down his team’s shortcomings on Sunday when penalties were needed to beat Coventry City after giving up a three-goal lead in the FA Cup semi-finals.

The Red Devils took a three-goal lead in the 58th minute but conceded three times to the Championship side in the final 20 minutes of the match, including an injury-time penalty scored by US men’s national team team Haji Wright. Coventry also came close to scoring several times during extra time but failed to do so, allowing United to beat them on penalties.

“I can’t see that word,” he said after the game. according to Sky Sports, when a member of the media described the performance as embarrassing. “At the end of the day, it’s about the performance. I see the mistakes we make. We can’t look away from it, but there’s no shame in it. Like I said, it’s a huge achievement.”

Ten Hag suggested he was happy with the performance given the “setbacks” United have faced all season, speaking in particular about the season-long injury crisis that has plagued them all season. This included Sunday’s match, when Casemiro played at centre-back alongside Harry Magure, with a number of more naturally suited players missing.

However, Sunday’s performance against Coventry was the latest low point in a season full of low points for United, even though they emerged victorious. United had 60.5% possession and 14 shots to Coventry’s two by the time they went 3-0 ahead in the 58th minute, courtesy of Bruno Fernandes. They essentially took their foot off the accelerator and invited the second division team back into the game, instead of closing out the game as expected. Coventry had a slim lead in possession from the 59th minute until the end of regular time, beating United by nine points. three. United regained control of possession and shot taking in extra time, but Coventry defeated them after expected goals by a margin of 1.33 to 0.53.

Despite United failing to keep a grip on a match they should have finished with ease, Ten Hag was defiant after the match. He pointed out that United will play in back-to-back FA Cup finals under him and suggested he is doing better than some of his predecessors in that category. Ten Hag also hit out at the referees in charge of United’s last few games since his team have conceded four penalties in their last four matches, saying: “It seems like it’s a curse against us.”

“Today 3-3 – that’s absolutely crazy, that decision,” ten Hag said of Coventry’s penalty. “If there is consistency then we should also get a penalty to make it 4-3, and that was more of a handball than the penalty we got and that’s been happening a lot lately. It was Chelsea [who] got two crazy penalties, it was Liverpool whose penalty was also very questionable, so that happens too and it seems like it’s a curse against us.”

The win is likely to keep Ten Hag in the lead until the end of the season, but has done little to dispel rumors that he will be out of a job when the season is over. They rank highly among the teams in the top five European leagues in terms of goals conceded during the 2023/24 season, something that should not have been relevant in the FA Cup semi-final against a champion team. Despite keeping them at bay for an hour, they ultimately allowed 18 shots and conceded three on Sunday, demonstrating an extraordinary ability to crumble under pressure, even if Ten Hag is not publicly concerned about the pattern.

United have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six games and although they have scored 15 goals in that period, they have conceded the same number of goals in that period. As United’s season of ups and downs continues, it’s hard to see them quitting with only a handful of games left on the calendar. That could be bad news for their Champions League hopes as they sit 16 points behind fourth-place Aston Villa even with two games to go. It could also cost them the FA Cup final when they face Manchester City as they look to end their season on a high with both a Premier League title and another cup win.