Teamwork makes the dream work

Erik ten Hag will stay Man United boss, however for the way lengthy?


Following an intensive end-of-season assessment lasting greater than two weeks, new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford have reportedly concluded that Erik ten Hag is the proper man to be Manchester United supervisor. For now.

However there is not any escaping the truth that the Dutchman has been made to attend greater than three months for any actual present of assist. Ratcliffe’s deal to purchase a 27.7% stake within the membership was ratified in February and, since then, the British billionaire has danced across the topic of who ought to be United’s supervisor. Even after successful the FA Cup following an exhilarating, if shock, 2-1 victory over Manchester Metropolis within the last, Ratcliffe’s interplay with Ten Hag was restricted to a agency handshake. Pep Guardiola, Metropolis’s supervisor, received a full-on hug.

Since Wembley, there was nothing however silence.

It is Ratcliffe’s mantra that “you must at all times stroll in the direction of the proper answer reasonably than run to the unsuitable one,” however for 16 days United have been caught in stasis. Late on Tuesday, sources instructed ESPN that, with the assessment lastly concluded, Ten Hag would keep on as supervisor. Membership sources insisted it was the “clear conclusion” and hinted {that a} contract extension may very well be on the best way.

However that ignores the truth that United have had severe reservations about whether or not to proceed with the previous Ajax Amsterdam boss. Brailsford made his personal doubts clear by sanctioning conversations with different candidates earlier than the top of the season. Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Frank, Graham Potter, Kieran McKenna and Roberto De Zerbi had been all sounded out in a method or one other with information leaking out within the week earlier than the cup last.

It prompted one report on the eve of the ultimate that Ten Hag can be sacked whatever the end result towards Metropolis, however at no level did United contact the Dutchman’s representatives to play it down. On the again of in all probability his largest win as United boss, Ten Hag was defiant within the Wembley press room saying that if the house owners “don’t need me, then I am going someplace else to win trophies as a result of that’s what I do.”

There have been moments in his post-match information convention the place you felt his frustration reaching boiling level, however it was directed as a lot at Ratcliffe and Brailsford because it was in the direction of the reporters asking the questions. The problem now could be what occurs subsequent?

Ten Hag will, in some type, be concerned in United’s summer season switch enterprise and start the brand new marketing campaign as supervisor. However after harbouring so many doubts, it is simple to see a situation the place INEOS makes a change on the first signal of bother subsequent season.

It opens up the potential for appointing Gareth Southgate, who hasn’t needed to interact in talks about different jobs whereas he focuses on main England at Euro 2024. The timing of appointing Southgate this summer season by no means labored with United set to play their first preseason pleasant towards Rosenborg in Norway on July 15, simply 24 hours after the Euros last.

Southgate has been imprecise about his future past the match in Germany and his contract with the FA runs out on the finish of the yr. A poor run of type early within the season might simply price Ten Hag his job and approaching Southgate in September or October is a far simpler activity than making an attempt to do it whereas he is making ready for a serious match.

Brailsford and incoming sporting director Dan Ashworth are each massive followers of Southgate, however he hasn’t managed a membership facet since being sacked by Middlesbrough in 2009. He is performed properly with England, reaching the semifinals of the World Cup in 2018 and the ultimate of Euro 2020, however there would possible be outcry amongst followers if he turned up at Previous Trafford.

Information of Ten Hag’s survival on Tuesday felt extra like a keep of execution reasonably than a rubber-stamped approval. Ten Hag will hope that he is proved proper and that with a completely match squad, outcomes choose up and he is in a position to safe his future with optimistic performances and outcomes on the pitch. Till then, although, his future will keep on a knife-edge. Each early-season set-back can be adopted by questions on his future whereas the shadows of out-of-work managers like Southgate, Tuchel, Potter, Pochettino and De Zerbi will hover ominously within the background.

United’s type has dipped considerably since successful the Carabao Cup in February 2023 — they’ve misplaced greater than a 3rd of their 74 video games since beating Newcastle United at Wembley and completed eighth within the Premier League final season — and Ten Hag will want an upturn in outcomes rapidly if he will utterly expel the doubters.

Membership bosses insisted the choice on Ten Hag’s future introduced “readability” to the scenario, however in actuality it does something however. Ten Hag is the supervisor for now and that is all. It might but be a really brief reprieve.