Man Utd players proved Cristiano Ronaldo right in humiliating FA Cup scare vs Coventry

Man Utd players proved Cristiano Ronaldo right vs Coventry. (Image: GETTY)

Manchester United’s modern-day standards, or lack thereof, were showcased for the world to see in Sunday’s humiliating capitulation against Coventry City. Erik ten Hag’s side eventually booked their ticket to a record 22nd FA Cup final, but they proved Cristiano Ronaldo right in the process.

United did what was expected of them in the first 70 minutes of their fourth match at Wembley Stadium in the last 14 months. They deserved a commanding 3-0 lead against a Championship team showing little sign of life.

But as has become a trademark in Ten Hag’s second season in charge, his players crumbled at the slightest sniff of adversity – Ellis Simms’ 71st-minute strike.

Callum O’Hara’s wicked deflection off Aaron Wan-Bissaka to reduce the deficit to one goal made Coventry look destined to come back. Haji Wright’s 95th-minute penalty ensured they did.

Victor Torp thought he had sealed one of the greatest comebacks in the history of English football at the death in extra-time, only for VAR to spare United’s blushes.

Manchester derby FA Cup finals didn’t exist until last season. However, a 4-2 win on penalties confirmed that it would be United vs Manchester City under the arch for a second successive year on May 25.

But there’s a reason it felt like the Red Devils were the losing team after Sunday’s semi-final. The latest collapse once again displayed that standards aren’t where they should be.

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Man Utd needed penalties to beat Coventry. (Image: Getty)

In September 2023, former United assistant Mike Phelan suggested that Ronaldo wasn’t happy with the players’ standards after he returned under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2021.

“He still had massively high standards and was terrific to work with. But I’d probably say a tougher mindset,” Phelan told Sky Sports.

“He had been at Man United, he had been Portugal’s ever-present, he had been at [Real] Madrid. I liked it because he didn’t want his standards to drop; he wanted other people’s standards to come up.

“And sometimes you lose a few people along the way when that happens. I remember certain times when he pushed and pushed hard, and he didn’t get much reaction or much response. And there was frustration.

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“When you deal with top, top people, it’s about them and where they can finish and where they can get to. They want to look back and go, ‘Wow, that was successful’.

“And he probably realised, and I don’t know as I never had that conversation with him, that he couldn’t do it at Manchester United. So, his challenges were elsewhere.”

Ronaldo’s frustrations over the club’s standards likely contributed to his explosive exit at the end of 2022, before which he also publicly criticised Ten Hag and Ralf Rangnick.

This season has represented a worrying indicator that despite Ten Hag’s efforts, those standards haven’t improved much if not at all since he took charge.