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Erik ten Hag insists he is in the dark over whether he has just coached his final match as Manchester United manager, an FA Cup win that club captain Bruno Fernandes said his head coach “deserved”.

First half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo set United on course for Ten Hag’s second trophy in as many seasons in the job, one made all the sweeter for United fans given that it denied their rivals Manchester City the chance to win the league and cup double. Jeremy Doku’s strike set the stage for a grandstand finish at Wembley, one where United held firm in the same impressive fashion that they had gone about the preceding 87 minutes.

Ten Hag’s future has been the subject of rampant speculation in recent weeks, with reports on the eve of the FA Cup Final saying that the Dutchman would be sacked whatever the outcome of his side’s clash with City. United have previous in that regard, letting Louis van Gaal go two days after he had won the 2016 FA Cup, though football decisions are now being led by minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Asked by the BBC whether he thought he had a future at United, Ten Hag said: “I don’t know. The only thing I’m doing is preparing my team, developing my team. This is a project for me. When I came in I can say it was a mess. Now we are better. We are not where we want to be.

“Football is about winning trophies. I want to play the best football, dynamic, attacking football but in the end you have to win games and trophies. That’s the mentality we brought in. This was our one opportunity and we did it. I’m very proud of the players and staff.”

Ten Hag began the second season of his United tenure on something of a high, a third place league finish and EFL Cup triumph earning him the admiration of fans, players and those above him at Old Trafford. This season, however, had proven to be an unmitigated disaster before his day in the Wembley sunshine, where a 13th FA Cup Final win ensured United would get the European football they had not earned through an eighth placed Premier League finish.

The Dutchman has consistently insisted that the explanation for those struggles is more to do with the Carrington treatment room than anything he is instructing his players to do on the pitch and he picked up that refrain again on Saturday. His point may certainly have been vindicated given the impressive displays of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, the first choice center back pairing from his first season in charge that he was rarely able to deploy in his second.

“It was not right,” Ten Hag said of the criticism he has faced. “We didn’t have the players. We have seen the same things, not always good football – definitely not – but we had to make compromises all the time and then you can’t play the football you want to play.

“I had maybe three or four times in two years we had the full squad available. Even today we were missing massive players like Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Casemiro.”

An impressive energetic first half saw United avenge their loss at Wembley 12 months ago, the day they were unable to deny their crosstown rivals the opportunity to match their treble triumph. It also draws the Red Devils within one of Arsenal’s record 14 FA Cup wins.

Fernandes said, “It was the last chance to get something positive from the season. We were here last season and we weren’t good enough and we had to see them go up and get the trophy. They have great quality, great players, a great manager. We had to sacrifice and suffer but we did great things.

“Congratulations to everyone, the staff, the players and all the fans, they have given us a big push – finally we have something to celebrate. It is crucial for everyone. We know the manager is under so much scrutiny, he deserves this, also everyone in the backroom staff and the players, we all deserve this.”

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