Erik ten Hag will not be sacked by Manchester United before end of season

<span>Erik ten Hag speaks with <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Bruno Fernandes;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Bruno Fernandes</a> during <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Manchester United;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Manchester United</a>’s less-than-convincing FA Cup semi-final victory over Coventry on Sunday.</span><span>Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty</span>

Erik ten Hag remains safe as Manchester United manager until the end of the season, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe having no intent to remove the Dutchman despite the increased pressure on him following Sunday’s alarming FA Cup win over Coventry.

United were in control at 3-0 until Mark Robins’s team staged a remarkable comeback, scoring three times in 29 minutes to force extra-time. In the extra half an hour, Ellis Simms hit the bar and Victor Torp scored what appeared to be the winner, but his effort was ruled out for offside following the intervention of the VAR. United won 4-2 on penalties.

In allowing a three-goal advantage to slip, United continued their concerning recent pattern of not being able to close out matches. Two weeks ago they led Liverpool 2-1 in the Premier League only to give away an 84th-minute penalty that Mohamed Salah converted for a shared of the points, while in the previous league game they were beaten 4-3 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge having being 3-2 ahead going into stoppage time. This followed a 1-1 draw at Brentford in which Mason Mount’s 96th-minute goal was cancelled out by an even later strike from Kristoffer Ajer.

United have been unconvincing all season and, following their near-humiliation at the weekend, the feeling that Ten Hag could be on his way out of Old Trafford with immediate affect has grown. But with the Dutchman having lead the team to a second FA Cup final in his second season at the club, Ratcliffe, who controls United’s football policy, has decided to stick with the manager for the time being. It is understood that that the high number of injuries and illnesses Ten Hag has had to contend with is accepted by the Old Trafford hierachy as a factor in United’s performances this campaign, one that could end with a trophy but almost certainly not with qualification for the Champions League given United are seventh in the Premier League, 16 points behind Aston Villa in fourth with only six fixtures remaining.

It remains to be seen if Ten Hag lasts beyond the summer, at which point he will have 12 months remaining on the contract he signed having been appointed from Ajax almost exactly two years ago. In the meantime, Bruno Fernandes has denied that the uncertainty surrounding the 54-year-old’s future is affecting the players, with the captain clear they must focus on the rest of the season.

Related: Victor Torp’s torment: the greatest ever FA Cup moment that wasn’t

“That doesn’t have to affect anyone because we have to focus on everything we have this season,” said United’s captain. “We still have chances to get in European positions in the league, we have to finish as high as possible, that’s the main thing, and then we have an FA Cup final to play.

“So no one has to be worried because it’s not our job to be worried with these things that come from the outside or from the inside or whatever because we have the owners who take care of that, we have the directors and then we players it’s about performing on the pitch and giving our best.”

Fernandes admitted the scare Coventry gave United caused mixed feelings about the eventual victory. “Obviously, it is a little bit but at the same time we have to be happy,” he said. “It’s two years in a row we have reached a final, we know how difficult it is to get to the final of the FA Cup. Obviously we wanted to get there in a different way.

“For the first 70 minutes, we were so good, we controlled the game and then obviously well done from them, they believed, they gave everything they could to get back to the game and they did it.”

Fernandes was asked why United have often conceded in quick succession and in added time. “In some moments you can probably relax yourself for a little bit - not make the pressure as strong as you should,” the Portuguese said. “At the end, they got some lucky goals but at the same time, we have to give credit to them.”

Darren Fletcher, the technical director and former United midfielder, spoke to the team and pointed to how he reached only a few Cup finals under Sir Alex Ferguson as inspiration. “We had Fletch before the game,” Fernandes said. “Fletch has been part of one of the best teams for Man United in the past years and he’s been here three times at Wembley for the FA Cup, he played 12 years for the club, he was in the most successful part of the club in the last years.”