Erik ten Hag has spoken to the press after Manchester United lost narrowly to Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final today.
Ilkay Gundogan’s brace crushed United’s chances of lifting another trophy this season, having won the League Cup in February.
Bruno Fernandes’ first half penalty proved insignificant as Gundogan pummelled two volleys past the helpless David de Gea.
In his post-match press conference, Ten Hag was gracious in defeat whilst also applauding his side’s efforts:
“First of all I want to congratulate City. I think it was very narrow, head to head, very competitive. Good organisation, didn’t allow them a goal from open play.
“We fought back after quick goal down, I think we are the only team in the world who could fight back.”
Chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough revolved their transfer strategy around their new manager last summer after he had just lifted the Eredivisie with Ajax. This approach is likely to change, however, as the hierarchy develops following a period of sackings last year.
Asked about his immediate future at the helm of Old Trafford, the Dutchman stated:
“My only plan is to improve all things at this club — I will fight for my ideas.
“I will talk to the club about what we’ve to do for that — I have to work with my staff, my players, to be better next season.”
De Gea has been under fire for his lacklustre ball-playing ability, which has restricted United’s realisation of Ten Hag’s desired Total Football style of play. Ten Hag warned Henry Winter of The Times to not rely on De Gea remaining as the team’s No. 1 next season.
His passing and launched kicks were noticeably poor today, hindering United’s chances of initiating build-up play or attacks far too often; he struck 26 long balls of which only eight proved to be accurate.
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The Spaniard has been praised for his shot-stopping ability and elite reflexes. These attributes were not displayed in this afternoon’s final.
Asked about De Gea’s performance in this match and this season, Ten Hag said:
“In this moment I don’t want to talk about criticism, we played a fantastic season. If you consider City before today had 42 wins. The difference was made today (United have 41 wins). I am really happy with the performance from my team.
“Say it like this, we are in the right direction but there are issues in the game we have to improve, definitely, if we want to make next step and win trophies,” the Dutchman admitted.