Jobs, pride and a double at stake as Manchester heads to Wembley

May 24 – It’s a repeat of last year’s showpiece final but this time, it could be judgement day for one of the two managers.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will be out to bolster his chances of avoiding the sack by ruining Manchester City’s bid for the league and cup double when the cross-town rivals square off in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Last year, City beat United 2-1 en route to an incredible treble-winning campaign that included Premier League and Champions League glory.

After clinching an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title last weekend, Pep Guardiola’s side are now out to make it a double this time round and will start clear favourites.

United return to Wembley shaken by a turbulent campaign in which they finished eighth – their lowest final position since 1990 – and left their Dutch manager fighting to save his job.

Ten Hag has blamed United’s woes on injuries but has caused friction with certain players and even victory tomorrow might not convince the club’s new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe to keep faith with him.

Let’s not forget too that United only made it to the final after blowing a three-goal lead and surviving a penalty shootout against second-tier Coventry in a semi-final that underlined the flaws in Ten Hag’s under-performing team.

“I came here to win trophies,” Ten Hag said defiantly. “I’m just focusing on the job I have to do. That is first to win the game on Saturday and then keep going in the project.”

“It is never easy, but we will go for it and have to believe it – as we did last season – and often against good opponents we play our best football. I expect the same on Saturday.”

Easier said than done. Beaten in six of the past seven Manchester derbies, United must lift the Cup for the first time in eight years to avoid their first season without European action since 2014/15.

Pep Guardiola’s City pipped Arsenal by two points to lift the title after winning their last nine league games, leaving them on the brink of more history at Wembley.

“To do what we’ve done year in, year out, I don’t think many teams would be able to do that, especially in this Premier League,” City captain Kyle Walker said as he contemplated a potential second successive double.

“I think it starts from the manager, first and foremost. He’s addicted to winning. He is addicted and it rubs off on us.”

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