FA Cup: City, United clash in repeat Manchester derby final for the ages

Saturday's match will be the first back-to-back FA Cup finals since Blackburn Rovers vs Queen's Park in 1883-84 and 1884-85


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Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (L) and Manchester United's Dutch manager Erik ten Hag  go head-to-head in an epic match. - AFP
Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (L) and Manchester United's Dutch manager Erik ten Hag go head-to-head in an epic match. - AFP

Published: Fri 24 May 2024, 2:21 PM

Erik ten Hag has vowed to win the FA Cup and carry on with his Manchester United project as the under-fire boss prepares for Saturday's final against Manchester City.

Ten Hag is battling to save his job amid mounting speculation that United's new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe plans to axe him after a turbulent season.

United finished eighth in the Premier League -- their lowest final position since 1990 -- and crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage.

The Dutch coach ed United to their first trophy in six years when they won the League Cup last season..

Man City enter the fixture looking to become the first men’s team to win back-to-back doubles after securing a historic fourth straight Premier League title last Sunday.

The club will bid to continue the staggering achievement of last year’s historic haul of the Big Five major trophies of Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

Saturday's latest heavyweight derby encounter will mark the first time two English sides have ever met in back-to-back finals.

To date, the only time the same two teams have faced each other in consecutive finals was all the way back in 1885, when Blackburn Rovers beat Scottish side Queen’s Park 2-0.

It is also the first time that City have reached successive FA Cup finals in 68 years. They previously figured in the showpiece event twice in back-to-back campaigns, -in 1954/55 and 1955/56, with the inaugural back-to-back Wembley appearances coming in 1932/33 and 1933/34.

But Ten Hag is convinced he can turn the tide by securing United's first FA Cup triumph since 2016, in the process avenging last season's loss to City at the same stage of the competition and ensuring his club qualify for Europe.

Asked on Thursday if the final could be his last match as United manager, Ten Hag laughed and told reporters: "I have nothing to say. I'm just focusing on the job I have to do.

"That is first to win the game on Saturday and then we are in the project. Keep going in the project. After every season you review it and see where you are in the project and what things may need to change. We spoke lately about it. There are players developing and values going up."

Pep Guardiola's men have beaten United twice already this season and Ten Hag knows a surprise win for underdogs United would be a well-timed feather in his cap.

"It's all about trophies. We have a huge opportunity to win a trophy. In the last 10 years there has not been so many trophies at the club but we have the opportunity to win two in two years," he said.

"The FA Cup final, it's a big event. Even in a season that is not in our way, we are there. We know we have an opportunity.

"It won't be easy but we must go for it. We have to believe it. We know often against good opposition we play our best football and that must be the same on Saturday."

Ten Hag has been hampered by injuries to key players throughout the season, but his fitness issues have eased ahead of the final.

Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane have returned, with Victor Lindelof, Mason Mount and Anthony Martial pictured in training this week, although Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw will be sidelined.

Ten Hag insisted Maguire, who has been named in England's provisional Euro 2024 squad despite his muscle injury, had not suffered a setback.

Saturday, May 25

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