Manchester United are up against the wall as Erik ten Hag looks to end the season on a high following their humiliating 3-0 defeat to Sevilla earlier this week.
The loss in Andalusia meant that United’s impressive run in Europe has come to an end and with roughly four weeks remaining of the season, Ten Hag has the chance to win another trophy and finish in the top four.
Thankfully, United are well-placed to end the season strongly in the league but they will face a stern test in the FA Cup this weekend when they make the trip to Wembley to face Brighton and Hove Albion.
Brighton are in terrific form and are also on the hunt for Champions League football next season. Overturning Roberto De Zerbi’s men will be no easy feat.
United cannot afford another heavy defeat, however. The Europa League exit was damning and it was the latest capitulation of a long line this season.
Speaking ahead of the game against Brighton, Ten Hag addressed the topic, insisting that United’s continued failure in certain games is down to a ‘mental’ problem.
“We can’t deny it, it’s mental, definitely, we have to learn that you keep going, you carry on,” Ten Hag is quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
“This team, what they can do very well is bounce back in between games, what they can do less is bounce back during a game to a setback. That is what we have to improve.
“You have to acknowledge, it’s the truth, we have to do better, I know that, I have to teach the players to do better in such circumstances.
“We [have to] deal better with such expectations, the demands on this team, we are Manchester United, they are high, we have to improve it, I have to reach the players and they have to step up.”
Victory over United would secure a third trip to Wembley for the season and potentially a stunning final against Manchester City, who face Sheffield United in the other semi-final on Saturday.
It’s paramount that Ten Hag arrests the disappointment from the Europe League exit immediately by beating Brighton but that is easier said than done.
Thankfully, he will be able to welcome Bruno Fernandes back to the squad after the Portuguese international missed the trip to Seville.