Ten Hag blasts media and says winning a trophy would be ‘over-performing’

Erik ten Hag has called negative media comments regarding Manchester United’s brittle victory over Coventry in the FA Cup semi-final “a disgrace” and insisted that his side will have over-performed if they lift the trophy.

United were 3-0 ahead against the Championship side going into the 71st minute only for Coventry to force extra time, with their third goal ­coming in the 95th minute. While United ultimately progressed to the final by winning 4-2 in a ­penalty shootout, they received criticism for the manner of their triumph. Before Sheffield United’s visit to Old Trafford on Wednesday, Ten Hag was asked if he could understand this ­reaction and made clear his feelings on the  matter.

Related: Erik ten Hag at Manchester United: should he stay or should he go?

“No. Absolutely not,” he said. “You [the media] made enough [of it] and the question: ‘Is it ­embarrassing?’ No, the reaction from you was ­embarrassing. It is the comments. Top football is about results. We made it to a final and we deserved it not only by this game but also the other games.

“We lost control for 20 mins, we also had bad luck [at] 3-2 [with a deflected goal], 3-3 [a questionable penalty].

“Penalties were very good and we made it to the final, it is a huge achievement. Twice, in two years, is magnificent. For me as a manager [at United and Ajax], four cup finals in four years. The comments are a disgrace.”

Ten Hag has had to contend with more than 60 injuries and illnesses to players plus off-field issues ­concerning Jadon Sancho and Antony and the uncertainty ­regarding the Glazers’ potential sale of the club. Given all of this, he was asked to rate the scale of the achievement should United win the FA Cup in a season that is almost certain to end with them missing out on ­qualification for the ­Champions League.

“I would say it’s over-over-performing with all the problems we have had,” he said. “Getting into the final is already a big achievement, but we are here for trophies. We have an opportunity to win a trophy and that is good. But we are not satisfied by being in the final, we want to win it and that is what we will go for and it’s our mentality.

“That is why we are successful. That’s why I am ­successful over 10 years as a manager, I always bring out the maximum of each squad.”

After Rasmus Højlund’s spot-kick sealed the win for United, Antony turned to Coventry’s ­players and taunted them by cupping his ears. This led to further criticism but Ten Hag said the Brazilian only reacted because he had been taunted by the opposition in the first place.

“Did you see the reaction of Harry Maguire? [who commiserated Coventry’s players],” said the manager. “He [Antony] was provoked. This was a reaction to that, you haven’t seen the provocation, only the reaction. But he should not do it.”

United are seventh before hosting the Premier League’s bottom side, 16 points behind Aston Villa in fourth with six games remaining and Ten Hag has been hit with further injury concerns. “We had a problem with [Alejandro] Garnacho – that’s why we took him off during the game but I think he will be fine,” he said.

“Scott McTominay, we have to assess today – really doubtful. Marcus Rashford is also doubtful and there was also an issue with Bruno Fernandes with the hand but I think he can make it.

“We have to win every game. That’s what United stands for, that is our approach. Go from game to game but we have to qualify for Europe and [then we have] the FA Cup final.”

Ten Hag met Jason Wilcox, ­United’s new technical director, for the first time on Monday. Along with the manager, the former Blackburn winger will play an instrumental role in the club’s summer transfer business.

“We have to form a partnership as we are a little behind in the process so we will go and speed up the process,” said Ten Hag.

“This week we will not have so much time. I know his profile, a lot of experience in youth and one year at Southampton. I am looking forward to our partnership.”