Erik ten Hag labels reaction to Manchester United’s Coventry win ‘embarrassing’ and a ‘disgrace’

Erik ten Hag on the touchline during Manchester United's FA Cup semi-final against Covnetry

Erik ten Hag has branded the reaction to Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final victory against Coventry City a “disgrace” and “embarrassing” and insisted his injury plagued side will have “over-performed” this season if they go on to win the trophy.

United led 3-0 with 19 minutes remaining at Wembley on Sunday only to concede three times before prevailing on penalties after VAR had ruled out a last gasp extra-time Coventry winner for offside.

The near fatal collapse invited some stinging criticism, with former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher claiming United might have “probably the most embarrassed dressing room you could probably remember of a team who has won a big game” and ex-United captain Roy Keane suggesting his old side were “almost embarrassed” to win.

But Ten Hag hit back at the criticism by insisting he could not understand the reaction to his side’s progress to a second successive FA Cup final against Manchester City.

“No, absolutely not,” said United manager, who also made a pointed reference to his record of two Dutch Cup finals and three English finals with United and Ajax over the past four seasons.

“You asked the question: ‘Is it embarrassing?’ The reaction from you was embarrassing. Why the comments? Top football is about results. We made it to the final and deserved it, not only by this game but also the other games. We lost in 20 minutes control. We also had bad luck – 3-2, 3-3.

“We were very lucky in the end, [that is] clear. The penalties were very good and we made it to the final and that is a huge achievement. Twice in two years is magnificent. For me as a manager, [five] Cup finals in four years so the comments are a disgrace.”

Antony celebrates Man Utd's penalty shootout win by goading the Coventry players

Ten Hag did concede he was “annoyed” by the way his team imploded but said the overwhelming reaction from fans would be happiness at reaching the final two years running.

“We were not happy with it [the collapse]. I can see the fans are not happy with it as well, but they get fed by opinions,” he added. “But all over, what I heard is that the fans are very happy we are again in the FA Cup final.

“I have seen the reactions in general. I was annoyed. I was annoyed by the team, by myself because I am part of the team, and it shouldn’t happen. But also, especially when you sit down and analyse it, it is also part of bad luck. The deflected shot, the penalty should not have been given, but I was annoyed by myself.”

United could be without as many of 15 players against bottom club Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Wednesday and Ten Hag claimed his team will have “over-performed” this term should they beat City in the Cup final given all the injury problems and off field issues they have had. “I would say it’s over-performing with all the problems we have had,” he said.

Ten Hag admitted he would have to be “really creative” with his selection against Sheffield United when he could be without up to 15 players through injury, including at least seven defenders.

There are doubts over Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford while Ten Hag is hoping Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes can recover from problems in time. Harry Maguire was also hampered by a groin problem at Wembley.

United were already without 10 players against Coventry, with defenders Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Jonny Evans, Tyrell Malacia and Willy Kambwala, midfielders Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat and striker Anthony Martial all absent.

United appointed Jason Wilcox as technical director on Friday, with the former Blackburn Rovers winger, who was academy director at Manchester City before taking over as Southampton’s director of football, at Wembley to watch the Coventry game.

As revealed by Telegraph Sport on Monday, Wilcox has been tasked with conducting an audit of Ten Hag’s credentials and dressing room relations over the next month or so before the club make a final decision on the manager’s future.

In addition to taking the lead on the summer transfer window, Wilcox will be responsible for determining a “game model” - a clear playing style and identity - and make recommendations about how Ten Hag fits into that.

Asked how closely he expects to work with Wilcox, Ten Hag said: “Very close. We have to form a partnership, that’s very important. We are a little behind in the process so we have to catch up and we will go and speed up the process.

“I met him [on Monday] for the first time, we had some talks. This week we will not have so much time. But from Monday on we will go forward and of course I know his profile, I know his work in youth [football], a lot of experience there and one year he was at Southampton so I know his background and I am looking forward to our partnership.”

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