Coventry City vs Manchester United: What was Erik ten Hag’s message to his players before the shootout?

Just when it looked like a walk in the park, Coventry staged an incredible comeback and scored thrice in the final part of the game.

File photo of Manchester United players; Credit: Twitter/ @ManUtd
By Karthik Raman | Apr 23, 2024 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Manchester United once again made life hard for themselves after throwing away a three-goal lead before winning the FA Cup semi-final in a dramatic penalty shootout. It has become a habit for United in recent weeks to throw away leads in the latter part of the game. They did that against Brentford, Chelsea, Liverpool and – now – Coventry City. It was a strange game in many ways at Wembley.

Erik ten Hag’s side had complete control for the majority of the game and dominated Coventry City with relative ease. Manchester United were cruising in the FA Cup semi-final at one point, taking a comfortable 3-0 lead. Just when it looked like a walk in the park, Coventry staged an incredible comeback and scored thrice in the final part of the game to take it to extra time. The Championship side even thought they had won it deep into the additional 30 minutes but VAR came to United’s rescue, as their goal was ruled out for offside.

Erik ten Hag’s message to his players before the shootout

After 120 minutes of action, the game headed into a penalty shootout. It started with Casemiro missing the first kick for United but Andre Onana – soon – got them into the game with a great save. The Red Devils then went on to win the penalty kicks 4-2. The win means Man United will face local rivals Manchester City in the final for the second successive time. They lost 2-1 to City in the FA Cup final last year.

Speaking after the game, Erik ten Hag revealed the message he gave his players before the penalty shootout. “It was about mentality in that moment. You have a plan and have full confidence so I told them to stick to the plan. I had confidence we would win the shootout. Normally Casemiro scores, we train them very well. I am always calm, I focus and know my players can shoot penalties. I’m always confident Andre [Onana] will catch minimum one. I was quite convinced but when the first is a mishit then you never know,” he told in his interviews with ITV, BBC and MUTV.

‘When you are so in control you should win easy’

While ten Hag was happy with some aspects of the game, he was not pleased with how his side dealt with the final part of the 90 minutes. “It’s mixed feelings. The way we did it isn’t OK. We should have managed it better but it’s a huge performance. If you analyse the game we controlled 75 minutes but then allowed them to return into the game. We can be happy with the achievement, getting to the final, that’s huge. If you see United was, in the last 20 seasons, five times in the FA Cup final and now we are twice there in two years. We need to win that final though. When we [are] 100 per cent in it then we can do it,” he explained.

The manager added: “It was an incredible game, a strange game too. We had total control for so long and then gave it away in the last part of the game. We did show resilience to win the penalty shootout. We had control for 75 minutes and have to give Coventry a compliment for what they did in the last 15 minutes. We have to improve. We talk a lot about this. First you have to put yourself in a winning position but then you have to take it over the line. In these moments we are making mistakes and not keeping our responsibilities. We have to show resilience. By the end we did show resilience and determination to win the shootout. When you are so in control you should win easy.”

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