Erik ten Hag produces sensational response to Man Utd sack rumours

When the final whistle was blown by referee Andy Madley on a stunning Wembley afternoon, Erik ten Hag finally let out a roar.

The Dutch head coach was soon embraced by Lisandro Martinez, and then a bunch of other players and staff were on the scene as the celebrations began. It is impossible to appreciate exactly what Ten Hag will have been feeling as he kept his cool and several of his players broke into tears.

He has been criticised for months and disrespected for days with curiously-timed leaks around his supposedly doomed future. But on what the majority of people expect to have been his final game, he stood dignified throughout an upset few had predicted.

From the opening minute, as City set about trying to monopolise possession, Ten Hag stood on the edge of his technical area in a number of poses. There were crossed arms, hands behind the back and even a moment of hands in the pockets of his tailored trousers.

But when the head coach received a desperately rare slice of luck for Alejandro Garnacho’s opening goal, there were fist bumps and applause.

Have City left in a worse goal all season? It was hard to recall one caused by such a dismal defensive mix-up. Yet any suggestion that Ten Hag’s team had simply got lucky, that the expected service would swiftly be resumed, was misplaced. United’s second was a delight and underlined a Ten Hag tactical plan being executed to perfection.

The intent of his players, themselves so often maligned in a season Ten Hag himself described as “crap”, could not be questioned. They committed to challenges, they pressed relentlessly and still managed to keep their shape.

United were never going to dominate and their path to a surprise success was always going to surround their ability to counterattack and defend well. In both cases they were excellent, a team transformed compared to what had been served up for the majority of the campaign

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