Erik ten Hag on borrowed time at Manchester United after Wembley capitulation

Erik ten Hag on borrowed time at Manchester United after Wembley capitulation

The VAR saved Manchester United from disaster, but this near-capitulation at Wembley surely ended Erik ten Hag’s hopes of keeping his job.

United were abject again as they pressed the self-destruct button in one of the most remarkable FA Cup ties in history.

Leading 3-0 against Championship opponents Coventry with 20 minutes left, they were taken to extra-time and avoided defeat only when Victor Torp’s last-gasp effort was ruled out for offside by the finest of margins.

United eventually triumphed on penalties, but this was another day that raised more questions about whether Ten Hag is the man to lead a new era under Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

The INEOS boss was watching from the Royal Box after completing the London Marathon. He ran a time of four and a half hours but, after making a dash across the capital, was probably more exhausted watching United unfold.

He arrived at 2-0 up, before seeing Bruno Fernandes add a third that put United in control. But what he witnessed next was a reminder of the weak mentality of Ten Hag’s team.

This latest United collapse comes after they wasted stoppage-time leads to draw with Brentford and lose to Chelsea in the Premier League.

Ten Hag must take responsibility and is surely on borrowed time.

There are few signs the team are improving, players look weak mentally and tactically miles off the sides at the top.

Manchester City should wipe the floor with their neighbours in the May 25 final.

Ratcliffe was watching on at Wembley as United collapsed (Getty Images)
Ratcliffe was watching on at Wembley as United collapsed (Getty Images)

But even if United somehow manage to cause an upset and end the season with a trophy, Ten Hag will struggle to keep his job.

Champions League qualification is all but gone and there is a chance they could miss out on European qualification altogether if they finish the season badly.

United have regressed this season — and that will be difficult to ignore for minority stake-holder Ratcliffe, who is overseeing a shake-up at the top of United and will expect far better than this.

Ten Hag rejected the idea that his players had been an embarrassment.

“We can play on very high levels, but we can go to very low levels in the same game,” he said. “That’s unexplainable.

“We have to do better on such occasions. On several occasions we let each other down. Today we got away with it.

“At the end of the day, it is an achievement to reach the final two years in a row. I see the mistakes we make, but it is not an embarrassment.”

Winning the FA Cup could make it harder for Ratcliffe to get rid of Ten Hag, who has one year left on the contract he signed when he moved to United from Ajax in 2022, but this display did not reflect well on the Dutchman.

Coventry manager Mark Robins once scored a goal that effectively saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack at United in 1990, but it felt like yesterday cost Ten Hag his job.