Erik ten Hag danced with joy after Manchester United ended a six-year trophy drought by beating Newcastle 2-0 at Wembley to claim the Carabao Cup and admitted it was a risk to take charge last summer but that his “love” for the club led him to become the manager.
A Casemiro header and a Sven Botman own goal, both in the first half, ensured United closed the gap to 2017 Europa League triumph and handed Ten Hag the first trophy of his tenure. Amid scenes of jubilation at the final whistle, the coach joked with Antony and Lisandro Martínez, having done the same when the former Ajax coach won trophies with the same players from the Dutch club.
Ten Hag quickly oversaw a reversal in United’s fortunes after finishing sixth last season. He was asked if it was a gamble to become the manager. “It was maybe a risk but I am stubborn and I just love United so when I look at our shirts, the bond with the fans, when I see Old Trafford, the legacy that Sir Alex (Ferguson) left and how many great players have been developed in one United shirt and we want to do the same”, he said.
“This team wants to make its own history and when this opportunity arose I thought it was the right club for me and I want to be part of it.”
The Dutchman wants victory to become a drug for his players. “Of course, we not only hope (that it will be) but we know that we have to work to invest and suffer and sacrifice and we know that we have to do our best every day to achieve this”, he said. “It’s about glory and honor and if you want to prove something and win something you have to because nobody brings you anything in top football.
“You have to win the first (trophy) and that’s what we did today. You can be inspired by that, but also more confidence.
We are still at the beginning (of the process) of returning Man United to where it belongs. We showed the right spirit – we fought and gave everything, as a team. It wasn’t always the best football, but it was effective. There is a hunger and desire for trophies.”
Ten Hag said of his dancing with Antony and Martínez, “We have a history of that, I hope we can do that more often. It’s champagne for the manager and the team (but) let’s rest the players, they have a big game on Wednesday”. This is West Ham’s visit to the FA Cup.
Ten Hag pointed to a collective effort. “I just want to win. We have invested since the beginning of the season, together with the staff – I mean they have been doing an incredible job – and staff and players are together”, he said.
“They (the players) are very good collectively. Also, they challenge themselves, which needs to happen. It’s a good dressing room. When it’s difficult, they help each other. It’s great to look at and I think it’s the best a coach can get.”
United fans chanted, “We want the Glazers out” over the club’s owners, one of whom, Avram Glazer, was at Wembley. Ten Hag said: “He was very happy for the club, as a starter, he really wanted to be a part of it, you feel it was really good for him to be in the dressing room, to show his intentions.”
The Americans have put the club up for sale, but Ten Hag is not aware of the process. “I don’t know, I’m not involved. The fact that he’s here shows he’s committed. What he wants is not for me. I have to lead this dressing room and others are involved”.
Eddie Howe disappointed but pleased with his players “I’m proud of the players,” said the Newcastle manager. “We were very good between the two areas, but it is in the areas where games are won and lost. Defensively, we didn’t hit the big moments and we weren’t accurate enough.
“We are desperately disappointed, but we are desperate to come back here and win a trophy. Seeing the fans disappointed hurts a lot.”