'That's not explainable' - Erik ten Hag lost for words at Manchester United players

Manchester United blew a three-goal lead against Championship side Coventry City -Credit:2024 Getty Images
Manchester United blew a three-goal lead against Championship side Coventry City -Credit:2024 Getty Images

Erik ten Hag admits he is at a loss to explain why Manchester United's chaotic game management after they blew a three-goal lead in the FA Cup semi-final against Coventry City.

United were cruising to a Wembley return on May 25 with 19 minutes to play against the Championship outfit, but a team featuring 10 internationals conspired to collapse and were dragged into extra-time.

It was the Sky Blues who threatened to steal it in the final moments of normal time and they thought they had won it in extra-time when Victor Torp scored in the 121st minute of the game, only for VAR to subsequently rule it out for the most marginal offside call against Haji Wright.

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That got United into a penalty shoot-out in which they prevailed, but the victory felt hollow and Ten Hag against saw the frailty in his team exposed. United conceded twice in 11 minutes to Newport County in round four, twice in two minutes to Liverpool in the quarter-final and twice in eight minutes to Coventry to spark their remarkable comeback.

Failing to see out leads has been a familiar problem for United this season and it's only two-and-a-half weeks since they lost a game at Chelsea that they were winning nine minutes into stoppage time. They have also conceded goals in groups this season and Ten Hag is still powerless to explain why it is happening.

"Yes. I see that similar, we can play on very high levels, but in the same match we can go to very low levels in the same game, that’s not explainable," he said. "Manage the game, take responsibility, take each other in responsibility and make right decisions. I have to teach my players, clear. We have to do better on such occasions.

"But the most difficult thing you can do is put yourself in a winning position. On several occasions we let each other down. Today we go away with it."

Despite the embarrassment of Coventry's comeback, Ten Hag insisted it was an achievement to make a second consecutive final, where Manchester City again lie in wait.

"Mixed feelings is clear, but it’s an achievement to be twice in the FA Cup final in two years," he said. "The last 20 years United was five times in final but now we are two times in two years, it’s a huge achievement.

"When you are so in control, dominating the game, 3-0 up, we should win it. The way we didn’t was not good. In the penalty series how we act there, how determined we were, that is a good sign, that’s good character, from the 70 minutes to the end we made mistakes."