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FA Cup final: Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United future on the line at Wembley

Erik ten Hag is fighting to save his position as Manchester United prepare to take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

Erik ten Hag of Manchester United

Manchester United are growing impatient with head coach Erik ten Hag and he may only have one last opportunity to save his job.

Speculation is growing around the Dutchman and reports have emerged suggesting he could be removed from his post even if United beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

The bookies are pricing the Red Devils as huge outsiders for the clash at Wembley, with some even offering odds as high as 8/1 for a United win.

With expectations being that City will sweep aside their rivals with ease, should Ten Hag be given more time should he cause an upset?

Ahead of the big match, we take a look at how the former Ajax coach can earn himself another lifeline.

The task at hand

Manchester United failed in both attempts to beat City in the league this season.

Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions won 3-0 at Old Trafford in October before completing the double over them at the start of March with a 3-1 success at the Etihad.

In fact, United have only beaten City once in their last seven attempts.

Ten Hag will be under no illusions that he could not be coming up against a more formidable foe, but it could work in his favour.

Delivering the FA Cup would mean United have won two trophies in the last two years.

They beat Newcastle in last season’s Carabao Cup final to end their drought of six years without a major piece of silverware.

United remain without a league title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and although they have made it to consecutive FA Cup finals, the form of Ten Hag’s men has been pretty poor.

The Red Devils dropped from sixth to eighth in the league standings during the final few weeks of the season and it means they could miss out on Europe if they lose in the capital.

A win to secure European football provides yet another opportunity for Ten Hag to strengthen his case despite crashing out of the Champions League group stages earlier in the season.

Beating the bookies?

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Is it enough?

While there are permutations that could potentially save Ten Hag’s job, he may have already sealed his fate.

The 54-year-old has had two years in charge now with little progress being made.

A club like Manchester United should always be competing at the top of the table and the reality is they look nowhere near good enough.

With just one year left on his contract, Sir Jim Ratcliffe could make a head start on the future and put Ten Hag out of his misery early to avoid a potential disaster again in 2024-25.

The other issue facing the board is that the manager market is not at its strongest and bringing in a new face may be tough.

Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel are two names that have been touted as potential replacements for Ten Hag while Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna has also been mentioned.

They are not people that will get United fans off their seats, although it would offer the club a fresh start.

Right now, things are simply not working and a loss on Saturday would conclude a truly dismal season.

Unless they suddenly click into gear at Wembley, Manchester United look to have decided Ten Hag’s fate already.

Watch it unfold

Planning on watching the FA Cup final this weekend?

We will have you covered with reaction to the big game.

You can also find all the kick-off and streaming information in this article.

Expert opinion

It’s not all doom and gloom around Manchester United and some former players are even giving their backing to the current head coach.

Gary Neville recently came out and said he should be allowed one more year to turn things around and Roy Keane surprisingly backed the Sky Sports pundit up.

Now, former full-back Paul Parker has jumped on the bandwagon and suggested fans are tired of constant change and there needs to be some stability to achieve success.

“I personally would stick with him,” Parker told the PA news agency.

“If you change the manager, that means a whole new coaching staff. It would be ‘rinse and start again’.

“There would be too many changes too quickly – and there would still be a lot of dead wood (players) left there.

“I think the fans are fed up with it now. If there was another change, it would be back to square one, they would get even more bitter and twisted about it.”

United have been through six managers since Ferguson retired and none of them have lasted three years.

To draw a comparison, Mikel Arteta struggled to deliver in the first few years at Arsenal but with time and some funding, he now has them challenging on all fronts.

Too little too late?

The summer will throw up plenty of change at United regardless of whether Ten Hag gets the boot.

His record in the Premier League arguably warrants the sack but silverware always counts for something.

Ultimately, football is about winning trophies and if the Red Devils can get past their arch-rivals this weekend, it may open a few more eyes to the impact Ten Hag could still have in Manchester.

Picture of Mitch Fretton

Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.