Ten Hag must hope to invoke spirit of 1990 with FA Cup win over Liverpool

Claiming trophy can no longer save a career but a convincing Manchester United display would generate owners’ goodwill

Remember the days when the FA Cup could save a manager? Remember specifically 1990, when the assumption was that, after eight league games without a win, Alex Ferguson would be sacked by Manchester United if they went out of the FA Cup in the third round against Nottingham Forest, and how, with a grimly dogged performance, they won with a second-half Mark Robins goal?

That goal is a key moment in the legend of Ferguson at United. After three unconvincing years, he had splashed out £7.5m on five signings the previous summer and had been facing fan protests as the likes of George Best and Emlyn Hughes called for his head. That season they lost 5-1 to Manchester City, when such things were all but unthinkable. For a couple of home games attendances dipped below 35,000. That was the winter of the “Three years of excuses and it’s still crap. Ta ra Fergie” banner at Old Trafford, when the frustration of more than two decades without a league title really began to be felt.

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