Champagne, beer and music blaring - how Manchester United players reacted outside the dressing room after FA Cup win

Mainoo and Garnacho stride through the mixed zone
-Credit: (Image: Samuel Luckhurst)

"It's a miracle," said the spouse of one of the Manchester United dignitaries. Sir Alex Ferguson was asked for a word to encapsulate the afternoon.

"Fantastic," he purred. Ferguson, David Gill and Avram Glazer had just offered their congratulations to the United players and staff.

Sirs Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford crossed Ferguson's path en route to the dressing room sanctuary. The protective Svengali Brailsford ushered Ratcliffe away when a reporter asked, "Sir Jim, is Erik staying?" That is the one United-related question Ratcliffe won't answer.

Apart from the crestfallen Rodri, the Manchester City players lingered in the tunnel area for well over an hour, having sportingly observed United's trophy presentation. The statesman-like Kyle Walker was extremely magnanimous when he paused, sweat still glistening on his forehead, in the mixed zone. Walker was pleased for "some of my friends" in the United dressing room.

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Erling Haaland, with his dampened mane looking like a hybrid of a Die Hard henchman and Prince Vigo, marched through. Kalvin Phillips, in non-club attire, also boarded the City coach.

The most surreal sight was that of the unused Jack Grealish. The only City representative not clad in club garb, Grealish sauntered through in a Gucci tracksuit and flip-flops, his hood pulled up, smiling mischievously.

Pep Guardiola, besuited, stroked his beard, perhaps wondering whether he should have donned his lucky woollen jumper rather than a cup final two-piece.

A Wembley official had reminded us not to request selfies. The odd mixed zone attendant acted more like a fan than a journalist but it was a largely professional working environment.

Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho, the teenagers who got their kicks, left simultaneously. With a bucket hat, unbuttoned Paul Smith shirt and backpack on, Mainoo resembled a Mancunian schoolboy revelling in a day trip at Blackpool.

Garnacho, Victor Lindelof and Christian Eriksen opted to leave their match shirts on. Casemiro did not get to pull his on for the match after aggravating an injury during his warm-up in the dressing room but did for the celebrations.

Lindelof had already necked a can of beer in the dressing room and was clutching a bottle for the coach journey back to the United hotel. A press officer was clutching two beer bottles.

Rashford breezes through
Rashford breezes through -Credit:Samuel Luckhurst

Scott McTominay, settling for a casual shirt sans tie, disembarked the coach almost as soon as he had boarded it. He returned carrying a crate of beer with a speaker blaring music. Darren Fletcher expressed thanks for the "congratulations".

Marcus Rashford had his own speaker, appropriately playing On One Tonight by Gunna. Rashford savoured his playlist with a bottle of champagne. Rasmus Hojlund took a sweet swig of his own bottle and bellowed "Thank you!" like a conquering Viking.

Raphael Varane sported gold-tinted shades to match his medal and Willy Kambwala enthusiastically took photographs of the area, more mementoes from a day he could scarcely have imagined being involved in six months ago.

The seldom-seen Tyrell Malacia briefly confirmed his rehabilitation from knee surgery was on track. Diogo Dalot politely declined a request to speak so he could "celebrate" and Andre Onana claimed, "I'm not allowed." A United press officer clarified that was not the case.

Bruno Fernandes has averaged more than 50 starts in four-and-a-half seasons at United and credibly protested he was too tired after conducting innumerable media duties with rights holders. Jonny Evans graciously spoke.

Ten Hag held his hand aloft amid more congratulations. United's compact and intense performance suggested victory was no miracle.