Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has described Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s planned purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the club as “an inspiration” and has vowed to survive the setbacks on the journey back to the top of the English game.
Goals from Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes saw United ease into the fourth round of the FA Cup and avoid any unwanted drama in a 2-0 win over League One Wigan.
With Sir Dave Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc watching on as Ratcliffe awaits ratification of his 25 per cent stake in United, a straightforward win was just what Ten Hag needed after a December in which United lost six of nine games to keep the pressure on the Dutchman.
Recognising the need for a result, the United boss went strong despite a list of absentees into double figures – and after easing into a fourth-round tie at either League Two Newport County or Eastleigh of the National League, Ten Hag spoke about the new-found optimism at the club.
When asked by ITV about Ratcliffe and his planned purchase of a 25 per cent stake, he said: “It is an inspiration. Everyone is optimistic.
There is a lot of work to do. We’ve had a lot of setbacks and I think in the summer we were in a good way but it is a journey, it is a project and now we have to deal with some setbacks but we will keep alive, survive it and strike back.”
With 22,870 on hand, the DW Stadium was sold out for the first time since 2013 and the Latics’ last season in the Premier League, also the campaign in which they upset Manchester City at Wembley to lift the FA Cup..
The home fans should have had a shock goal to celebrate inside three minutes. Sean Clare picked off a loose pass from Kobbie Mainoo and fed Martial Godo. The on-loan Fulham forward hit a quick low cross to Thelo Aasgaard but his shot was well saved by Andre Onana.
Wigan would not have a better chance all night as United responded decisively with 33 attempts at goal, 14 of them on target. Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho both hit the crossbar while Marcus Rashford brought some fine saves out of Sam Tickle, but this was the 18th out of 23 domestic games in which United’s forwards failed to find the net.
“It’s all about the win but first half, the way we played, the performance, how we worked the ball, how we made our runs, the investment in the final third, we created a lot of chances and that was pleasing to see,” Ten Hag added.
I think we should have scored more but the good thing is we created the chances.
“We have so many injuries and illnesses but still we put out a strong side. We had a good team, so we were confident before, we must win this game.
“You never underestimate any opponent, definitely not this side, you know they will fight for their life because it’s the game of their life, we took the game very good.”