“Meltdown…”: United staff believe club legend could be primed to take over from Ten Hag – report

Employees at Manchester United think Steve McClaren “could step in as caretaker” in the event that Erik ten Hag’s job as manager is no longer viable before the season ends.

The Dutchman will stay in charge until after the crucial FA Cup final against Manchester City at the end of the month, which is acceptable to the INEOS Sport team, who took full control of the sporting operation at Old Trafford after Sir Jim Ratcliffe was confirmed as co-owner of the team in February.

The way United concluded the season, both in terms of results and performances, is believed to be crucial in making any choice, although the club’s new owners have given no indication about their long-term support of Ten Hag.

This is the reason the 54-year-old manager’s tenure at Old Trafford will probably come to an end with Monday night’s loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

A furious Palace team outplayed United, easily cutting through a makeshift defence that included an injured Jonny Evans and an out-of-position Casemiro on their way to a 4-0 thumping. Although they were commanding, Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise, and Jean-Philippe Mateta will not be having an easy evening’s work this season.

Although Ten Hag’s team’s disorganised defensive combination provides some relief from criticism, it still falls short of justifying the horrible performance they gave as a unit. However, this kind of contest has grown accustomed to this season.

Monday night could theoretically be written off or excused as an off day if it existed in isolation, but it doesn’t.

Apart from clinical finishing, not much separated the effort at Selhurst Park from the one at the Gtech Community Stadium six weeks prior.

Brentford struck the woodwork four times and were terribly unlucky to only salvage a point from a 1-1 draw. The xG (expected goals) for both games highlights that the Bees could have defeated Ten Hag’s team even more easily if they had played with greater care in front of goal.

xG – Crystal Palace (1.63) 4-0 (0.41) Man United

In the aftermath of the match at Selhurst Park, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen were apoplectic in their rage at Ten Hag, believing the result had to the straw which broke the camel’s back.

Owen was adamant the Dutchman “simply cannot manager the team next season” while Scholes revealed the match “felt very similar” to the 4-1 defeat away to Watford which marked the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure as United manager.

Interestingly, both former United stars supported the possibility of assistant coach McClaren taking over on an interim basis, believing Ten Hag was not “letting him touch that team” because McClaren was too good of a coach for a side under his stewardship to look as dismal as they did.

“We’ve played under Steve. He’s coached us. There’s no way his fingerprints are anywhere near that team. He’s a brilliant coach. And that team is not being coached at all. No way,” Owen revealed, with Scholes in full agreement.

And, according to Chris Wheeler (Daily Mail), the idea of McClaren taking over is one shared by staff at Old Trafford: “Ineos will let him stay in charge for the rest of the season, although it has been suggested among staff that Steve McClaren could step in as caretaker if the situation goes into meltdown.”

With the prospect of Arsenal and Newcastle in the next week and a final day trip away to Brighton, there are three separate opportunities for a United “meltdown” before the season-defining FA Cup final at Wembley on May 25. It’s perfectly conceivable, based on the continuation of (or lack thereof) performances against Brentford and Palace, that United lose all three remaining games in resounding fashion.

If that happens, INEOS may be forced to react earlier than planned, but they would not have to look outside of the Old Trafford dressing room for a short-term alternative.

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