On January 9th, 2024, Manchester United managed to avoid an FA Cup upset as they defeated League One side Wigan 2-0, securing their first away win since November. This victory relieved some of the pressure on manager Erik ten Hag, whose team has been struggling in the Premier League and has already been eliminated from European competitions. The FA Cup represents their last chance to win silverware this season and could serve as a lifeline for Ten Hag. The Red Devils were also fortunate to be handed a favorable draw for the fourth round, potentially facing non-league Eastleigh or Newport County of League Two.
The match against Wigan saw United in control for most of the game. The home side rarely troubled United, with Andre Onana making a good save early on. United slowly gained control, and Sam Tickle produced an outstanding save to deny Marcus Rashford. Scott McTominay also came close, prodding the ball just wide. United had several great chances in the first half, hitting the crossbar with a powerful header from Rasmus Hojlund and seeing Alejandro Garnacho’s attempt bounce off the woodwork. Bruno Fernandes then sealed the win by calmly converting a penalty, leaving no hope for Wigan to stage a giant-killing comeback.
The victory sets up United for their upcoming Premier League match against Tottenham at Old Trafford. They hope to build on this positive momentum and close the nine-point gap on the top four in order to keep their aspirations of returning to the Champions League next season alive. Ten Hag remains optimistic and views this journey as a project filled with setbacks that they must overcome. He believes they will bounce back and succeed in the end.