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Manchester United could fire its manager after winning the English FA Cup. He says he will ‘go anywhere else to win trophies’

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — After winning a major trophy, and particularly after stunning an overwhelming favorite in the final, teams normally enjoy a period basking in that achievement and soaking in the glory.

But Manchester United’s celebrations after defying the odds to defeat Manchester City and win the English FA Cup on Sunday were tempered by reports that its manager Erik ten Hag would be fired, regardless of the result.

When those reports were put to him after Sunday’s victory, Ten Hag pointed to his trophy-winning résumé.

“If they don’t want me anymore, then I’ll go anywhere else to win trophies because that is what I have done my whole career,” he told reporters after the game.

“The team is progressing, and we are winning trophies. Two trophies in two years is not bad,” he said, referring to his team’s League Cup victory last year. “Three finals is not bad but we have to keep going. I’m not satisfied with it.”

CNN has contacted Manchester United for comment about the reports that Ten Hag’s future with the club is in doubt.

The Dutchman has been at the club for almost two years and, despite a promising start to his tenure, presided over United’s worst ever Premier League season this year as it only mustered an eighth place finish, outside qualification for European football.

In the league, United’s erratic performances culminated in a 4-0 loss to Crystal Palace earlier this month, which further heaped pressure on a beleaguered Ten Hag and heightened the sense of crisis around the club.

Ten Hag has pointed to an injury crisis as explaining some of United’s inconsistency but new investment from British petrochemical billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has increased the clamor for improvement.

Before the FA Cup final on Saturday, that pessimism manifested in a sense of inevitability that United would lose, as it did last year, to an all-conquering City which had just won the Premier League.

But United’s teenage stars – Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo – scored in quick succession in the first half to propel the club to a 2-1 victory over City.

“I’m in a project and we are exactly where we want to be,” Ten Hag said afterwards. “We are constructing a team and when I took over, it was a mess at Man Utd. We are now on our way to constructing a team for the future.

“There is still a lot of work to do but we are exactly where we are,” he added afterwards. “We have value in the squad, and we have (players) with high potential who are progressing very well.”

One trophy-winning performance, however, may not be enough to save Ten Hag. There is precedent for United sacking a manager immediately after winning the FA Cup as the club did to Louis van Gaal in 2016, and Ten Hag still hasn’t brought a sense of stability or success to United which was so dominant for so long during the 1990s and 2000s.

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