Erik ten Hag: 5 reasons Manchester United decided to stick with Dutch manager

Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes and manager Erik ten Hag after FA Cup win (Credit: Imago)

Erik ten Hag: 5 reasons Manchester United decided to stick with Dutch manager

Joel Omotto 13:00 - 12.06.2024

Manchester United have decided against sacking Erik ten Hag following weeks of speculation that he was set to lose his job and there are key reasons why they stuck with him.

Manchester United have finally ended speculation regarding the future of manager Erik ten Hag following uncertainty regarding his position.

Ten Hag has been under the spotlight following United’s underwhelming season in the Premier League which saw the Red Devils finish in a lowly eighth position and were set to miss out on European football.

However, the Dutchman masterminded an FA Cup victory against Manchester City which saw his steam sneak into the Europa League for next season, a win that did not just lift the gloom around Old Trafford, but also strengthened his position to stay at the club.

Before the FA Cup final, news was rife that Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS team, which took control of football operations at United early this year, had decided to sack Ten Hag regardless of the outcome and the club took its time to conduct a two-week review which culminated in his stay and there is even talk of a new contract offer.

Following the bold decision, Pulse Sports looks at five reasons why United decided to stick by their Dutch manager.

Developing young players

Even before news of Ten Hag’s sacking, it had been reported that United were open to selling every other player apart from youngsters Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund.

This was due to the impressive performances of the young players and credit goes to Ten Hag.

Since coming in in the summer of 2022, Ten Hag has given opportunities to young players with the likes of Garnacho, Mainoo, Willy Kambwala and the departing Omari Forson among those who have been promoted to the senior team.

INEOS are believed to have been impressed by the coach’s trust in youth, something they are keen to keep building on, and who better do it than the man himself.

Trophy win

It is hard to see if Ten Hag would have stayed or received the overwhelming support he has had from United fans had he lost the FA Cup final to Manchester City.

Like Sir Alex Ferguson in 1990, Ten Hag came into the final with his job on the line after a poor Premier League campaign but he fell Pep Guardiola’s men in fine fashion to win the trophy which has bought him more time and got fans on board.

In two years at United, Ten Hag has two trophies, including the Carabao Cup in 2022-23, and there is belief that more and bigger pieces of silverware are on the way if he gets the much-needed support and has a fully-fit squad, something he has not enjoyed during his stay in Manchester.

No major alternatives

It is also true that United assessed and even talked to other coaches with a view to replacing Ten Hag.

Just this week, there were talks that Ratcliffe met former Chelsea and Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel in Monaco and was impressed by what he had but hours later, it was revealed that the German wants to take a break from coaching.

With only untested and unproved alternatives like Roberto De Zerbi, who left Brighton last month, England’s Gareth Southgate, Brentford’s Thomas Frank and ex-Chelsea boss Graham Potter, none of them has the CV to rival Ten Hag’s, which made the decision to keep the Dutchman easy.

Lack of a football structure

Since Ferguson retired, United have moved from crisis to crisis with big-name managers like Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho failing to succeed due to the poor environment around the club.

This is down to the fact that unlike their Premier League rivals, United have lacked a proper and modern football structure that would support the manager and make his job easy.

It has resulted in a scattergun approach in the transfer window with players brought in who are either not good enough or do not fit into the philosophy of the man in the dugout.

Lots of money has been wasted on average players but the manager ends up paying the price.

With Jason Wilcox as Technical Director, Dan Ashworth set to join as Sporting Director and former Manchester City Head of Football Operations Omar Berrada as CEO, United are finally putting together a structure that will enable any manager to succeed.

Injuries to key players

The other mitigating factor for Ten Hag was that his season was greatly hampered by several injuries to top players.

Ten Hag rarely had a fully-fit squad to choose from last season, forcing him to play with a makeshift defence in some matches, while he had over 30 different partnerships at the back.

Key players like Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw barely played while the likes of Casemiro, Marcus Rashford, Hary Maguire, Victor Lindelof were in and out as Tyrell Malacia and Anthony Martial stayed out the entire season.

A review of the medical department is reportedly currently on and something will need to change next season to allow the manager to have his best players around.

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