Manchester United are the only English club to have completed the treble in their history. In 1998/99 they won the Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. But this season their record is under threat.
Manchester City look set to win the league title, and they have reached the final of both the FA Cup and the UCL. Erik Ten Hag’s side will face City in the final of the former and will have the chance to stop their treble hopes in their tracks. The current United side can defend the legacy of the famous 1999 team this season.
United are underdogs heading into the final
Pep Guardiola’s side are certainly expected to achieve each part needed to secure a famous treble victory. The title race seems over already, as in the English Premier League odds City are 1/200 favourites to finish the job at the expense of Arsenal.
The next step would be the FA Cup final where United will stand in the way of City’s path to glory. In betting on football, United are 9/2 underdogs to lift the trophy at Wembley. But the odds have never stopped United from upsetting their bitter neighbours in the past. Fans will fondly remember the second-half fightback in 2017/18 that prevented City from winning the league title at Old Trafford.
United will need similar heroics from the current squad. Guardiola’s side are seen as the stronger team by many, and some are arguing that we are witnessing the greatest City side ever. Ten Hag’s project is focused on long-term success but it would represent remarkable progress, if his first season ended with a domestic cup double.
The most victories for any United manager in their debut season.
🇳🇱 Erik ten Hag.#MUFC || #MUNWOL pic.twitter.com/gYu1U7Fa5E
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 13, 2023
Ten Hag vs Guardiola so far
Ten Hag began his managerial career alongside Guardiola at Bayern Munich. He coached the reserve team during the Spanish coach’s time in charge of the Bavarian club. The two met as opposing managers for the first time this season, with each claiming a single victory.
In October, City beat United convincingly in a 6-3 victory at the Etihad Stadium. United’s defence struggled to contain City’s attack in the opening Manchester Derby of Ten Hag’s tenure. United entered the return fixture with the backing of stunning form over the previous months. City faced the anxiety of Arsenal building a large gap at the top of the table.
United piled the misery onto their neighbours, with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford which left them needing to make up even more ground in the title race. The result even threw United into the mix for the Premier League crown. But injuries and suspensions prevented United from continuing their momentum long term.
United have been unable to leave a significant mark on the title race in hindsight. However, their strong run in the FA Cup means they have the chance to defend the honour of their former side. Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1998/99 cohort will be watching on as United face City at Wembley. And they will be hoping their record is not matched by Guardiola’s team.
Ten Hag: “Last year there were a lot of reservations last year when I spoke with players to join us… now many players see the ambition in this project — they want to come”. 🚨🔴 #MUFC
“Many quality players really want to join Man United now”, says via @mjcritchley. pic.twitter.com/r4Q2N577Qv
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 12, 2023
Ten Hag’s debut season has been up and down thus far. But an FA Cup triumph against their city rivals would erase any doubt over whether his opening season has been a success. A win in the Wembley contest would arguably represent the Dutch coach’s biggest managerial achievement so far.