Erik ten Hag danced in delight after Manchester United ended a six-year trophy drought by beating Newcastle 2-0 at Wembley to claim the Carabao Cup and admitted it had been a risk to take over last summer but that his “love” for the club drove him to become the manager.
A Casemiro header and Sven Botman’s own goal, both in the first half, ensured United bridged the gap to the 2017 Europa League triumph and gave Ten Hag the first silverware of his tenure. Amid jubilant scenes at the final whistle, the manager jigged with Antony and Lisandro Martínez, having done the same when the former Ajax coach won trophies with the same players at the Dutch club.
Ten Hag has quickly overseen a reversal in United’s fortunes after they finished sixth last season. He was asked if it was a gamble to become the manager. “Maybe it was a risk but I am stubborn and I just love United so when I see our shirts, the bond with the fans, when I see Old Trafford, the legacy like Sir Alex [Ferguson] left, and how so many big players were developed in a United shirt and we want to do the same,” he said.
“This team wants to make its own history and when this opportunity came I thought it was the right club for me and that I want to be a part of it.”
The Dutchman wants winning to become like a drug to his players. “Of course, we are not only hoping [that this proves to be so] but know that we have to work to invest and suffer and sacrifice and know you have to give every day your best to do so,” he said. “It is about glory and honour and if you want to prove something and win something you have to do it because no one is bringing something to you in top football.
“You have to win the first [trophy] and that is what we did today. You can take inspiration from this, but also more confidence.
e are still at the start [of the process] to restore Man United to where they belong. 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 dance with Antony and Martínez: “We have a history of this, I hope we can do it more often. It is champagne for the manager and the staff [but] we’ll rest the players, they have a big game on Wednesday.” That is West Ham’s visit in the FA Cup.
Ten Hag pointed to a collective effort. “I just want to win. We invested from the start of the season, with the staff – I want to say that they have done an incredible job – and the staff and players are together,” he said.
“They [the players] are really good collectively. Also, they challenge each other, which needs to happen. It’s a good dressing room. When it’s difficult they help each other out. It’s great to see, and I think it’s the best a manager can get.”
United fans sang, “We want Glazers out” about the club’s owners, one of whom, Avram Glazer, was at Wembley. Ten Hag said: “He was really happy for the club, as a holder, really wanted to be part of it, you feel it was very good he was in the dressing room, to show his intentions.”
The Americans have put the club up for sale but Ten Hag has no knowledge of the process. “I don’t know, I am not involved. That he is here shows he is committed. What he wants is not for me. I have to lead this dressing room and others are involved.”
Eddie Howe was disappointed but pleased with his players “I am proud of the players,” the Newcastle manager said. “We were really good between both boxes but in the boxes are where games are won and lost. Defensively we didn’t get the big moments right and weren’t clinical enough.
“We are desperately disappointed but we are desperate to get back here and win a trophy. To see the supporters disappointed hurts badly.”