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Coventry 3-3 Manchester United: Things We Learnt From Cup Classic

Christian Eriksen takes a corner for manchester united

Manchester United rescued themselves from a downfall they once again orchestrated as they squeezed through to the FA Cup final with a penalty shootout victory over Championship side Coventry City in a FA Cup classic. 3-0 up with 20 minutes to go, the collapse that ensued is scarcely believable from a Red Devils perspective. Here are five things we learnt from a rollercoaster afternoon and thoroughly undeserved semi-final win at Wembley.

Manchester United Ride Their Luck To  Seal Place In Cup Final After Shocking Collapse In Cup Classic

Never Draft A Manchester United Report Ahead Of Time

70 minutes on the clock: Coventry City 0 Manchester United 3. A professional and clinical performance from the Red Devils sees them comfortably into the FA Cup fina-.

Stop. Right. There. This is 2023/2024 Manchester United. Haven’t you learnt anything?

Just about half an hour later, the first half of extra time began after a confounding, and damningly almost expected 20 minutes of customary madness, Erik ten Hag’s men lurching from control to abject chaos in the blink of an eye. This way of playing football is totally unsustainable and an indictment of the lack of leadership that pervades the club on the field.

Erik ten Hag Is Running on Fumes

Let’s be clear, there are mitigating circumstances for the Dutchman. Over 60 injuries this season, including a late one to inexperienced French defender Willy Kambwala ahead of this tie, have forced the manager into rotating his squad almost every game, particularly in defence.

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Whilst such instability and long layoffs for key players are far from ideal, Ten Hag has repeatedly shot his side in the foot with ill-advised substitutions that have altered the course of games that, until they happened, looked set to end in Manchester United’s favour.

Today, it was the withdrawal of young starlet Kobbie Mainoo, the only player to exert any kind of control in the team’s midfield, and bright winger Alejandro Garnacho that allowed Coventry hope of wrestling the initiative back, which they duly did to force an utterly implausible period of extra time at Wembley.

Whilst Ten Hag is rumoured to have impressed new part owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe so far, repeated chaotic performances and questionable tactical decisions will not do much to help his cause and, with significant movement behind the scenes as the new regime revamps the entire footballing department of the club, the former Ajax coach could be forgiven for getting nervous about the security of his position.

Diogo Dalot:  United’s Player Of The Season

The Portuguese right-back has been exceptional this season, showing continuous improvement both offensively and defensively. His role in Scott McTominay’s opening goal for the Red Devils is merely further evidence of his trajectory towards becoming one of the Premier League’s best right-backs, and one of very few United players who can genuinely hold their head high after a tumultuous season.

The André Onana Redemption Arc Continues

Under fire in the first half of the campaign for some high-profile mistakes as he adapted to the demands of English football, Cameroonian goalkeeper André Onana has proven to be a spectacular addition to the squad since.

Two key stops, one in normal time from a fierce drive and one in extra time to superbly fingertip a powerful shot onto the bar and keep the hapless Red Devils in the game, further served to prove that he is worth his weight in gold, as much for his shot-stopping as his excellent distribution skills.

Casemiro At Centre Back: A Possible Solution Going Forward?

The sudden physical decline of the Brazilian after an imperious first term in Manchester has been a significant contributor to the team’s troubles in midfield this campaign, but he looked assured at centre-back today, covering at the back amid a sustained defensive injury crisis for Erik ten Hag’s men.

Indeed, the experienced former Real Madrid man is less exposed for pace when playing in defence, something that may give the manager food for thought for the rest of the season, with doubts as to whether the player will be at the club at the start of next season.

Cup Classic Sums Up Manchester United’s Painful Season

Moments of control and threat interspersed with long periods of headless, rudderless chaos have characterised the Red Devils’ inconsistent campaign. Coventry should never have had a way back into this contest, and yet no one will be surprised that Ten Hag’s men handed it to them on a plate. A penalty shootout win may see another Manchester Derby cup final on the horizon, but United fans will not hold out much hope for victory based on today’s evidence.


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