• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ten Hag faces anxious wait over Old Trafford future

Erik ten Hag belatedly produces a tactical masterclass to land FA Cup – and make it harder to sack him

Erik ten Hag faces an extended wait to discover his future at Old Trafford as no immediate outcome is expected from Manchester United’s 2023/24 end-of-season review.

The Dutchman who has one year remaining on his contract at Old Trafford boosted his chances of keeping his job by winning the FA Cup on Saturday, marking his second trophy in as many seasons.

United’s new co-owner, Jim Ratcliffe, and his INEOS team have been auditing the club, with the manager’s position being a key focus. They have examined every level of the club and made significant changes to high-level personnel.

However, no decision was made before the FA Cup final, and the victory over Manchester City at Wembley has bolstered Ten Hag’s support among influential figures at the club.

Despite the FA Cup triumph, the Red Devils recorded their lowest-ever Premier League finish this season, ending in eighth place. Ten Hag described the season as “horrible,” attributing many of the difficulties to injuries and stating he inherited a “mess.”

At Wembley, Ten Hag dismissed speculation over his future, focusing on the FA Cup final instead. Ratcliffe avoided questions about Ten Hag and did not mention him by name in his statement praising the players and staff for the FA Cup win.

About 78 percent of United fans want to keep the former Ajax manager, and Ten Hag claimed other clubs have shown interest in hiring him.

The club have considered other managerial options, but former coach Kieran McKenna, who impressed with back-to-back promotions at Ipswich, seems likely to sign an extended contract to stay at Portman Road.

Gareth Southgate, admired by some within INEOS, is under contract with England until the end of the calendar year and has pledged not to discuss club jobs before Euro 2024.

Also, Dan Ashworth, the preferred candidate for the sporting director role at Old Trafford, is still on gardening leave, with compensation yet to be agreed with Newcastle.

Incoming chief executive Omar Berrada will start in July, while sporting director Jason Wilcox is already in place. Interim CEO Jean-Claude Blanc and Sir Dave Brailsford, key decision-makers, have joined Ratcliffe as part of INEOS.