What went wrong for Man Utd in embarrassing FA Cup semi-final win over Coventry

  • Man Utd squeezed through to the FA Cup final
  • They gave up a three-goal lead against Coventry but eventually won on penalties
  • The Red Devils will face Man City in the final
Man Utd squeezed through to the FA Cup final
Man Utd squeezed through to the FA Cup final / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Labelling an FA Cup semi-final win at Wembley Stadium as 'embarrassing' seems wrong, doesn't it?

And yet that's a pretty perfect summation of Manchester United's victory over Championship outfit Coventry City on Sunday.

The Red Devils gave up a three-goal lead inside the final 20 minutes of the game, leading to a penalty shootout which they'd eventually win courtesy of successful spot kicks from Diogo Dalot, Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Rasmus Hojlund.

Here's everything that went wrong for Erik ten Hag's side on Sunday...


Erik ten Hag
Man Utd thought they had the game won / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

With 20 minutes to go and with a three-goal cushion against a Championship team, it's pretty fair to presume basically every single Man Utd fan at Wembley thought their team had comfortably booked a place in the FA Cup final.

And that's absolutely fine. As supporters, you're entitled to do that.

As a professional footballer though, you probably can't afford to think that way. That, in essence, is why Man Utd completely capitulated in the final 20 minutes of the game on Sunday. Having thought they had the game won, the Red Devils took their foot off the gas, stopped playing and put their place in the final in jeopardy.

Erik ten Hag's substitutions

Coventry City v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Diallo failed to make an impact / MB Media/GettyImages

It was the substitutes who saw Man Utd into the semi-finals in dramatic fashion, with Amad Diallo popping up with a famous late winner against Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-final clash with Coventry, Erik ten Hag's changes had the opposite effect.

The decision to replace Alejandro Garnacho with Antony (more on him soon) and Kobbie Mainoo with Christian Eriksen proved to be extremely costly for Man Utd. Both players had a notable net-negative influence on Ten Hag's side, as Antony lost five duels and created a whopping zero chances for his teammates and Eriksen hit seven wayward crosses and didn't win a single tackle.

Amad, who came off the bench for extra-time, failed to impress too - looking utterly knackered during his time on the pitch despite barely kicking a football all season.

Antony's antics

One of the key reasons why the win can be defined as 'embarrassing' was the antics of Antony when Rasmus Hojlund's winning penalty hit the back of the net.

The Brazilian's decision to cup his ears in front of Coventry City's players was rightfully met with face-palms across Manchester, and condemned by literally every single person watching the game on Sunday.

Maybe read the room next time Antony, eh?

Centre-back injuries

Out of sorts / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

With Raphael Varane, Jonny Evans, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof and Willy Kambwala all injured, Ten Hag had just one fit centre-back available for selection on Sunday.

That's not ideal.

Fielding Casemiro as a de-facto centre-back meant the Red Devils had literally zero pace in defence to combat the dynamic Ellis Simms and Haji Wright at Wembley, with the Brazilian regularly looking like he was running in treacle throughout the game.

It's no surprise Simms and Wright combined for three goal contributions on the day.