Erik ten Hag is preparing to leave the UK within 24 hours after the final whistle at Wembley this afternoon. There will be no lingering to celebrate or commiserate after the FA Cup final against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The Dutch manager has appeared surprisingly cheerful recently as if a great weight has been lifted off his shoulders. This weight comes from the immense expectations of being Manchester United's manager.

Ten Hag has known for some time that someone else will soon carry these burdens after the FA Cup final. His demeanor has brightened, and he seems to enjoy the usual verbal exchanges with the United press. When asked about reviewing the season with new part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, he smiled, “No, we already did that, and on Sunday, I will go on holiday. I think I deserve it.” It’s as if he’s saying, “I’m well out of this.”

There have been no public assurances about Ten Hag’s job security from Ratcliffe since he acquired a 27.7 percent share in the club and took over football operations. Ten Hag remarked, “It is not necessary, we will go for next season.” However, he clearly does not plan to return to Carrington or Old Trafford. Under his management, United has just experienced its worst league season in 34 years, finishing eighth in the Premier League and crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage.

A Final Chance for Redemption at Manchester United

Despite the setbacks, Ten Hag is in his third final in 15 months, with a chance to secure his second piece of silverware. If he lifts the FA Cup, he believes his tenure will be seen in a much more positive light. “I think so, yes. That’s the truth. We will be in a very different place if we win on Saturday because we will be in Europe, and we will have another trophy,” he said. He added that the club has improved significantly since he took over, highlighting the transition period and the progress of many players.

Ten Hag has also emphasized the impact of injuries on the season. “When you consider all the injuries we’ve had, it’s a horrible season for us,” he stated. He believes that solving the injury issues and strengthening the squad in the summer could see United return to the top four. He is confident that United would have been in a better position this season if it weren't for the numerous injuries.

Ten Hag also noted the players’ readiness for the FA Cup final, with most injuries resolved in time for the crucial match against City. “It will definitely motivate players to play in a Cup final, and all the players are desperate for it,” he said. The adrenaline and the significance of the occasion drive the players to perform at their best.

He acknowledged the support from Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford, who have been part of the club since January. “Of course. We are together. Since January, they have been part of this club, and they want us to win trophies,” Ten Hag said. However, the next message he receives might be a farewell, signaling his departure.

Ten Hag’s time at Manchester United appears to end, with a mix of achievements and challenges. Despite lacking public backing from the new ownership, Ten Hag believes he has done a good job guiding the team through a tough period. As he prepares to leave, he remains hopeful that the FA Cup final can provide a positive end to his tenure at United. The future of Manchester United will soon be in the hands of a new manager, tasked with continuing the club’s journey back to glory.