Ten Hag ready for second FA Cup semi-final

Saturday 20 April 2024 08:30

Manchester United's past, present and future were all referenced when Erik ten Hag spoke to club media on Friday afternoon, 48 hours or so before his side walk out at Wembley to face Coventry City in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final.

Sunday's opportunity to reach a second consecutive final in English football's most famous knockout competition is, of course, where the Reds' current focus lies.

But the tie brings us into contact with a familiar face from the club's history, given the opposition manager is Mark Robins - scorer of three goals on our triumphant 1990 FA Cup run, including winners in the third round and semi-final replay.

And the game falls at the end of a week in which United's Academy boys, potential stars of the future, clinched the Under-18 Premier League North title and were congratulated in person by Ten Hag on their return to Carrington from a decisive away win over Wolves.

You can watch Erik's conversation with our reporter Mark Sullivan below, or scroll further down to read every word...
Semi-final Q&A: Get set for Wembley Video

Semi-final Q&A: Get set for Wembley

PRE-MATCH Q&A | Erik hopes two players will return to face an impressive Coventry side, managed by ex-Red Mark Robins…

Erik, FA Cup semi-final weekend, a really exciting weekend, a huge opportunity for us to progress to the final. How's the week's preparation been?
"Yeah, so far so good. But we had some issues picked up in the game against Bournemouth and we had to make some adjustments in training and specifically for Harry Maguire because he picked up an issue, shortly into the game. He dealt with it in the game, but then he needed time to recover. Today he's back in training, back in team training and for the rest of the preparation, yeah, it's going in the right direction."

So other than that, a similar squad to Bournemouth? 
"I hope that Antony will return and that Scott McTominay will return. And I think so because Antony trained all week and Scott McTominay will step in training today in the full team training."

What has impressed you most about Coventry's progress to the semi-final? 
"It's a huge performance from them and they did so well last season. They were only so close to promotion to the Premier League, then they lost some good players and then you have to rebuild and that's normal but they are still playing and fighting for promotion because they can still go into the playoffs and go for another chance into the Premier League."
The Championship is a brilliant league, a tough league. It continues to offer twists and turns at both ends of the table, so I guess you're well aware of the quality within that division?
"I think it's the fifth division worldwide and it's a very good league, very competitive. Players who are very fit and also the technical levels are very high. So you have to play your best game if you want to beat them."

In the opposite dugout is Mark Robins, a man with a huge FA Cup history at our club. Have you heard all about that history, and are you looking forward to pitting your wits against him?
"Yeah, of course we have heard. I have heard from the history, that he was a Manchester United player, and he was very successful here as well. He did a good job. He scored an amazing goal in an FA Cup round. So a very important role, went into the final and and also as a manager, he has a great career, building there for a long term already. Coventry City, as I said last season, they were almost in the Premier League. He's doing an amazing job."
Erik congratulates title-winning U18s Video

Erik congratulates title-winning U18s

Erik ten Hag congratulated our title-winning Under-18s on Tuesday, after speeches by Nick Cox and Finley McAllister...

Finally you congratulated the Under-18s this week on their title win. And they play City in the Premier League Cup final on Tuesday at Leigh Sports Village. That should be a fantastic game?
"It is. But what's very hopeful is that United is back to winning leagues with young teams, Academy teams, but also producing players like Alejandro Garnacho, like Kobbie Mainoo. And it's all about this, to produce players for the first team. And there was, I think, a little gap in the last decades, but it looks like now United is back. The quality in the Academy looks like it's going up. And as a result of this, they are winning leagues and they're going for cups. So they won also the FA (Youth) Cup in 2022 and producing players. And at the end of the day, that is why we have the Academy."