Erik ten Hag remains as manager of Manchester United and is in discussions about a new contract

Manchester United have decided to retain confidence in Erik ten Hag, ending months of uncertainty over the manager’s position at Old Trafford. The Dutchman is now in discussions about a new contract, with his current contract expiring in 2025.

The move follows an extensive review, during which United’s new hierarchy decided that Ten Hag deserves more time and that a change in manager is not in the best interests of the club.

It marks a dramatic reprieve for Ten Hag, who had gone into the FA Cup final against Manchester City under heavy pressure and then managed an impressive 2-1 win over the Premier League champions at Wembley, easing resistance among fans before the prospect of a fifth place was strengthened. permanent management change in 10 years.

One report claimed that Ten Hag would even be sacked if he won the cup, but while there was little doubt his position was under serious threat, senior Old Trafford sources had long insisted that a final decision would not be made until after a thorough evaluation of the campaign. had been fed.

Now that review has finally been completed, Ten Hag has been given the green light to continue his work ahead of another crucial summer for the club – a move that is likely to be well received by fans who have seen the continued unrest in the dugout fed up and aware of the injury problems that plagued the campaign and the need for reinforcements in key areas.

Plagued by injuries

United finished eighth in the Premier League with a negative goal difference, their lowest placing in 34 years, and crashed out of the Champions League after finishing bottom of their group.

Ten Hag, 54, admitted after the cup win that the season had been “a shambles”, during which time his tactics were questioned and the open space between defense and midfield was routinely exploited by opponents.

But the Dutchman blamed United’s problems entirely on an ongoing injury crisis, which deprived him of a stable defense for most of the season, allowing him to field his best team only once.

Ten Hag felt that the injuries could seriously alleviate United’s problems and that they, with a more stable squad, supported by a few key signings this summer to complement young talents such as Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund , will improve dramatically. United are prioritizing the recruitment of at least one centre-back, a defensive midfielder and a striker this summer.

Diogo Dalot, Rasmus Hojlund, Amad, Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United celebrate winning the FA CupDiogo Dalot, Rasmus Hojlund, Amad, Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United celebrate winning the FA Cup

United have an exciting group of young players – Getty Images/Ash Donelon

It is unclear at this stage how much the prospect of fan backlash over a possible sacking, and concerns about the credentials of the candidates to replace him, influenced United’s decision, but they came to the view that Ten Hag had to remain in charge in the run-up to the elections. next season.

Ten Hag had warned United that he would “go elsewhere to win trophies” in the wake of the cup success against City and there may now be some confidence issues that need to be repaired as the club had spent the weeks leading up to the Wembley final spent with resounding voices. potential replacements.

Among them were Thomas Frank, Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel, Roberto De Zerbi and Gareth Southgate. United also spoke to representatives of Kieran McKenna, but the former United first-team coach opted to stay at Ipswich Town and sign a new contract.

Doubts had been raised over Ten Hag’s long-term future when it was confirmed in December that Sir Jim Ratcliffe had struck an agreement in principle with the Glazers for a minority stake, which would effectively see Ineos’ owner take over day-to-day management. of the club.

A £1.3 billion deal for a 27.7 percent stake in the club was finally approved in February, but Ten Hag never received any public assurances from Ratcliffe about his position.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe congratulates Erik ten Hag on FA Cup final victory over Manchester City/Manchester United remains with Erik ten Hag as managerSir Jim Ratcliffe congratulates Erik ten Hag on FA Cup final victory over Manchester City/Manchester United remains with Erik ten Hag as manager

Sir Jim Ratcliffe congratulates Ten Hag on United’s final victory in the FA Cup – Shutterstock/John Patrick Fletcher

Publicly, Ten Hag insisted that he and Ineos were “on the same page”, but as results and performance deteriorated and uncertainty about his position grew, the defiant Dutchman increasingly defended his record.

After Telegraph Sport revealed in April that United’s new technical director Jason Wilcox had been tasked with auditing Ten Hag and establishing a clear playing style and identity to be reflected throughout the club, the manager used his official program notes before a match against Burnley to defend his team. position.

Ten Hag insisted he was imposing a “shared playing model, with consistent training methods and playing styles” and took umbrage at any suggestion to the contrary.

In that regard, it remains to be seen whether Ten Hag is expected to make adjustments to United’s playing approach in the future. Under the new regime he is also likely to exercise much less control over transfers than before.

Appointed two years ago in the wake of a highly successful spell at Ajax, when he won three Eredivisie titles and two Dutch cups and guided the Dutch club to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019, Ten Hag overcame a torrid start to lead United to Carabao Cup glory and a third-place finish in the Premier League in his debut season.

He strove to raise standards and impose new levels of discipline after claiming he had inherited ‘not a good culture’ at Old Trafford and famously won a power struggle with Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward left by mutual consent in November 2022 after giving an explosive, unauthorized interview in which he accused Ten Hag of “betraying” him.

Off-field issues made the task more difficult

But the off-field challenges have only worsened this season, not helped by a dreadful injury crisis that has robbed him of key players such as Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw for long stretches.

A bitter feud with Jadon Sancho led to the England forward being loaned out to Borussia Dortmund in January. Ten Hag also had to deal with the shame of his most expensive acquisition, Antony. to combat allegations of assault against an ex-girlfriend that resulted in a period of paid leave. Antony denies all allegations.

The manager also had to reprimand Marcus Rashford twice for his off-field behavior and saw the England striker’s form plummet after a career-high 30 goals the season before.

Given a huge degree of control over transfers under Richard Arnold and John Murtough, who stepped aside as CEO and football director respectively this season to make way for Ratcliffe’s Ineos team, it didn’t help Ten Hag that too many of his signings disappointed and failed. to meet more pressing needs or were short-term stopgap solutions.

As well as the much-criticised signing of Antony for £85.5m in September 2022, the arrival of 30-year-old Casemiro for £70m followed a fruitless fourteen-week pursuit of Frenkie de Jong and the money squandered ultimately left United without the funds to complete a deal for England striker Harry Kane last summer. It placed a huge burden on young Rasmus Hojlund to take charge and it is no surprise that United have struggled to score goals again this season.

Goalkeeper Andre Onana – signed for £47m from Inter Milan after being available on a free transfer 12 months earlier – overcame a difficult start to impress, but £60m midfield coach Mason Mount made just five league starts during an injury-hit plagued debut season.

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