Pep Guardiola defends Erik ten Hag and reveals explanation for Man Utd struggles

Guardiola’s Manchester City square off with Ten Hag’s Man Utd in the FA Cup final this weekend, with the Reds boss appearing to be on the brink of the sack

Richard Jolly
Senior Football Correspondent
Friday 24 May 2024 15:39 BST
Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag have competed for Manchester supremacy over the past couple of seasons
Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag have competed for Manchester supremacy over the past couple of seasons (The FA via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola believes Erik ten Hag will be in trouble if Manchester United don’t win the FA Cup – even though he feels the problems at Old Trafford are not caused by the manager.

The Manchester City manager came to the defence of his beleaguered counterpart, who could be at risk of being sacked after a traumatic season, by saying Ten Hag has suffered because of United’s extensive injury list.

United recorded their lowest-ever Premier League finish by coming eighth, while crashing out of the Champions League in the group stage, and could lose a second consecutive FA Cup final to City.

But Guardiola, who knows Ten Hag from their time together at Bayern Munich, objected to the culture where managers are branded failures if they don’t claim silverware by arguing that only one team can win but that others can still do well.

He said: "In big clubs like United and City, when you don't win always you are in trouble. I would be in trouble if we didn't win. He has done many good things, I have huge respect for his job in the past and now at United I completely agree when I listen to him when he says they have not had a full squad this season and had a lot of injuries.

“I think this is the most important thing they have to think about because I am always focused that we have to be fit, fit, fit – otherwise we cannot use the players. They had a lot of problems and when that happens the manager suffers a lot. The squad is really good but the problem is when you cannot use them. This is a big disadvantage.

“In our job you have to win. Otherwise you are in danger: no matter which club, your trajectory, new or old, you have to win. Otherwise it happens but the people have to understand, just one wins, just one. All the others are failures? I don’t think so. I am not agreeing with that. Whatever happens this season, I would not feel a failure if we don’t win the Premier League and I think Arsenal don’t feel that because they perform incredibly.”

Ten Hag and Guardiola will square off in Saturday’s FA Cup final
Ten Hag and Guardiola will square off in Saturday’s FA Cup final (Getty Images)

Guardiola’s past with United includes two Champions League final wins over them during his time at Barcelona and, while City are the dominant force in Manchester now, he underlined his admiration for them.

He added: “It's football. It has never happened before in all the history, two times in a row [the same FA Cup final]. We respect United a lot. It has always has been like that since I arrived and in history. In the last decade we have been better but, in terms of history, they are the best team in England. So, just for that, you have to respect them massively, of course.”

City will be without goalkeeper Ederson on Saturday at Wembley but Guardiola has no other new injury concerns.

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