Ineos hint and Pochettino chance – Erik ten Hag sack verdict given amid Man United announcement wait

Erik ten Hag, the head coach of Manchester United, is still unemployed since the team has not decided what will happen to him. Towards the end of the season, it appeared as though the Dutchman would lose his job, but the incredible FA Cup final victory over Manchester City may have saved the former Ajax manager.

It is believed that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the investor in United who oversees football operations at Old Trafford, may be moving on from Ten Hag now that Ineos Group started reviewing the team’s plan last week. Ratcliffe is ‘not fully sold’ on Ten Hag, a well-placed source told the Manchester Evening News back in February, and the MEN is aware that Ineos has examined possible successors.

Despite the FA Cup win, it was a bitterly disappointing campaign on the whole for United with an eighth-placed finish coming after a Champions League group stage that ended with the club bottom of Group A.

Here, the MEN has its say with writers debating whether Ten Hag should stay at United or depart the club…

Kieran King

Even if United ended a terrible season with a win in the FA Cup, Ten Hag ought to be fired. Even though the Dutchman has dealt with a fair share of off-field issues, such as doubts about a takeover, Jadon Sancho, and Cristiano Ronaldo, finishing ninth with a club-high 14 Premier League losses is unacceptable.

Ten Hag should be fired from United, and Mauricio Pochettino, who has a track record of developing young players and turning around struggling teams like Chelsea, would be a superior replacement. United would benefit greatly from that in addition to Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS revamping their football operations.

Isaac Johnson

It’s clear that this is a close call because Erik ten Hag’s future is still up for debate. Other choices exist, such as Mauricio Pochettino, who was a contender prior to Ten Hag being selected in 2022.

The current manager’s blame-game against the previous administration for overpaying on transfers will not have aided his cause. It scarcely conveys the feeling that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is going for—that everyone is in this together.

Even though United had their worst-ever Premier League season—losing to Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest—and nearly lost to Championship team Coventry in the FA Cup semifinals, their two trophy lifts and victories over Manchester City and Liverpool should have some value. After two years of proof, Ratcliffe has thrown down the gauntlet and replaced the board with an elite force for the long term; Ten Hag doesn’t seem to be on that level.

Oliver Jones

A major choice lies ahead for Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the INEOS team. The future of Manchester United is at stake here, not just Erik ten Hag’s. I believe it would be a great loss to let the Dutchman leave the Old Trafford dugout after his impressive two years there.

The thrilling FA Cup final victory over rivals Manchester City guaranteed Europa League football despite Ten Hag’s inconsistent play during the previous season. For many, that victory was a lifeline.

However, his stellar performance in the previous season—a third-place finish in the Premier League and a successful Carabao Cup run—proved that he can produce results when given the appropriate players. Ten Hag has previously shown that he can be a big-game manager when called upon, so firing him for no apparent reason could be the incorrect move, even though the transfer philosophy may need to be revised.

Keifer MacDonald

While Chelsea, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich have all expressed interest in hiring Erik ten Hag as manager, Manchester United seems to be in a quandary. After a difficult two years at Old Trafford, the Dutchman seemed to be bidding farewell to the club soon after the final whistle in the FA Cup final against Manchester City last month, no matter the outcome.

That hasn’t been the case, though, and in the days that have passed since that thrilling 2-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s team, the radio quiet from INEOS, the new management at Old Trafford, seems to suggest that Ten Hag might be given one last chance to shine with a third season in charge. And based on United’s performance at Wembley, which featured breakout performances from Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho—two players who have thrived under Ten Hag—perhaps the Dutchman does merit one last opportunity to end the managerial curse at Old Trafford.

Tom Coley

It seems to say a lot that no decision has been made on Ten Hag’s future, and to be honest, it’s very refreshing. While it is undeniable that he set up the squad well, there are also concerns that are directed beyond him.

Giving the manager one last chance this summer, if Ineos and Sir Jim Radcliffe believe they can give Ten Hag a stronger base from which to grow, is a more considered move than most previous decisions at United.

Tyrone Marshall

Twelve days have passed since United won the FA Cup at Wembley, and we still don’t know if Erik ten Hag will stay or leave.

After their unexpected victory under the arch, Ineos promised a comprehensive end-of-season evaluation, but it’s beginning to feel more like dithering than a rigorous process. This week, it was anticipated that an announcement would be made at the end of the week, in either case.

We wait for the time being. Ten Hag will want an answer on his future as soon as possible, and players and transfer targets who are thinking about their futures also require an answer. Instead of focusing on the past, United needs to deliver that and begin making plans for the upcoming campaign.

The longer it goes on the more the feeling persists that United might be leaning towards keeping Ten Hag. If he does stay, then a new contract should be on the table and a change in job title is also a possibility. Whether Ten Hag is willing to agree with the conditions remains to be seen.

Either way, the clock is ticking and Ineos need to start looking forward and not back.

George Smith

Throughout this unsettling time, I have stood by Erik ten Hag, and I shall do so again now. In the 2023–24 season, the Dutchman struggled with an extraordinary injury crisis, which had a direct impact on his subpar Premier League performance.

While winning the FA Cup was an unexpected accomplishment for Ten Hag, it did demonstrate that he still has the ability to lead this team. Dithering over a choice implies that Ineos still thinks that as well.

If they had wanted to make a change, they would have done it by now, surely? It is almost two weeks since the final and pre-season plans will start ramping up before you know it – the start of the transfer window is also only eight days away.

Isaac Seelochan

After dealing with a severe injury issue during the campaign, Ten Hag’s first season success has been entirely forgotten. Ten Hag deserves greater attention. Anyone wondering why United gave up so many shots in 23/24 just needs to consider the variety of center-back lineups Ten Hag has been forced to play, including Casemiuro, a midfielder.

After two seasons in charge, there hasn’t been a distinct style of play, despite the trophy-winning success, and injuries aren’t an acceptable reason for that. In his second season as manager, Ten Hag might have had to put out fires, but he would have had more flexibility if his identity had been more apparent on the pitch.

United’s issues have often been unfairly labelled on Ten Hag but his biggest fault is not being able to get United playing with a clear identity. I have serious doubts over whether the Dutchman will be able to change this next season so I would argue a fresh start is needed.

What the pundits have said

There’s been so much chat around Ten Hag’s future recently, with United legends Wayne Rooney and Roy Keane having their say. Even Darts sensation Luke Littler, an avid United fan who was recently crowned the winner of the competition’s Premier League, has offered his verdict.

“I want him to stay no matter what. Even if we lost (the FA Cup final),” Littler said. “If you look down the line of managers we’ve had like Louis van Gaal who won the FA Cup and then got sacked after a season, I think Jose Mourinho’s the only one who had two to three years. David Moyes, he only had ten months.

“So I just think we (should) keep him, because we’re getting these managers for a year or two and they’re not doing anything. So if we give them time things might change.

“I like what he does, just give him time. Give him next season and if he doesn’t do ought, let him go.”

Rooney agrees, saying recently that Ten Hag should be kept at United and laying the blame at the door of the recruitment team. “When you’re losing games in the way they’re losing games, there’s going to be big questions asked,” he said.

“I would personally hope they do give him time, there are a lot of problems with recruitment, it hasn’t been good for a few years. “I hope he gets time to do it right. But we saw it in 2016 when Van Gaal lost his job, so you never know.”

Keane also reckons Ten Hag deserves a third year at United, adding: “The experienced players haven’t done enough, there have been too many injuries and I do appreciate where he is coming from. Defensively, the injuries have been huge – a huge setback.

“You still digest all that, but you look at the record, the amount of games they have lost, the goals they have conceded, the lack of goals they have scored, their position in the league, minus two or three goals, all of these things are not good to look at. But you hope he is given another chance in the summer.

“They have to go out and buy maybe four or five world-class players. They need a couple of centre-halves, a couple of strikers, someone in midfield – it’s a long way back for this football club.”

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