Erik ten Hag has already delivered his Manchester United team talk for the FA Cup final


Erik ten Hag stood in the Old Trafford centre circle and made his vow.

"I promise you those players will give everything to win that cup and bring it to Old Trafford and we are sure you will be there supporting us," said the Manchester United manager. "We thank you, the best supporters in the world."

Ten Hag's speech to the Old Trafford crowd following last Wednesday night's 3-2 win over Newcastle United was filled with positivity and uplifting words. It was Ten Hag's opportunity to issue a rallying cry following what might turn out to have been his last home game in charge.

United followed up his speech with a 2-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday, meaning they will head into Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley against Manchester City with a platform to build on. After a season of such disappointment, only denying City the double will salvage United's campaign.

For Ten Hag, of course, it might be his only remaining hope of keeping his job. Mauricio Pochettino's exit from Chelsea on Tuesday has added another name to the list of potential candidates to replace him.

Ten Hag, in his first season at Old Trafford, oversaw a season of progression, ending United's six-year wait for a trophy and guiding them to a third-place finish. This season, however, he has overseen a year of regression, with the club crashing out of Europe before Christmas and recording their lowest-ever Premier League finish.

For much of the campaign, Ten Hag has cited a never-ending injury crisis as the reason behind United's decline. It is a valid argument that has to be respected.

At the same time, however, Ten Hag has still had enough talent at his disposal to lead United to better results. The players also have to take their fair share of responsibility for the club's downfall.

With co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe expected to watch Saturday's all-Manchester final from the posh seats at Wembley, Ten Hag will be hoping it is not the last time he leads the team in front of the ambitious Ineos chief. The Dutchman has frequently admitted that he has had positive conversations with Ratcliffe and plans to lead United into a third term on the other side of the summer break.

But once his players have crossed the white line a few minutes before 3pm on Saturday afternoon, there will only be so much Ten Hag can do. The onus will be on his players to deliver the goods and, at the very least, produce a performance that does not leave them disgraced.

United, for all of their history, are once again heading into a Manchester derby as underdogs. There is no escaping that fact. However, as they demonstrated at Old Trafford in January 2023, City are not immune to defeat.