Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Game over for ‘kamikaze’ Ten Hag as Man Utd chief Ratcliffe draws up two-man shortlist

Erik ten Hag is reportedly facing the sack as Manchester United manager

Erik ten Hag is reportedly facing the sack as Manchester United manager

Manchester United have drawn up what appears to be a two-man shortlist to become their next manager amid rising speculation that the axe will indeed fall on Erik ten Hag this summer and after a club icon branded his style of football ‘kamikaze’.

The Red Devils made serious strides under the Dutchman in his first year at the helm with Manchester United reaching two cup finals and finishing third in the Premier League to seal a return to the Champions League. But their chances of repeating that success this time around are fading fast in the wake of a hugely-underwhelming campaign.

As it stands, United have already lost 12 of 31 matches played in the Premier League this season to leave them a distant 11 points adrift of Tottenham, who currently occupy the fourth and final (as it stands) UCL place. And while Ten Hag can reach a second successive FA Cup final if they see off Championship outfit Coventry at Wembley a week on Sunday, claims that the Dutchman is facing the axe are rapidly escalating.

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Indeed, TEAMtalk exclusively broke the news back in March that several senior players at Old Trafford believe the Dutchman will be relieved of his duties once the current season comes to an end.

Several publications have since followed our lead with copycat articles, with both the Daily Mail and Manchester Evening News – the latter of whom do have to tread a more careful line – also repeating those claims in the days after.

But now those claims have appeared to reach fever pitch in the wake of Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford; a match in which while they did claim a draw, the manner of their display has drawn widespread criticism.

Ten Hag sack talk heightens as Man Utd great pulls no punches

Indeed, United have crazily conceded an outrageous 90 shots in their three games against their Merseyside rivals this season, with Gary Neville branding Sunday’s performance as the type of display that can get a manager sacked.

Now another legendary United old boy in Rio Ferdinand has also weighed in on the dangerous tactics Ten Hag employed on Sunday, fearing there is limited shelf life for such an approach.

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Speaking on his Vibe with Five show, Ferdinand said: “The manager came out before and was saying ‘if anyone can’t see the style of play then I don’t know what you’re looking at’ and basically ‘we have got a style of play’. For the life of me, I give him the benefit of the doubt every time and am looking at him thinking every time ‘what is it’?

“I said after the game if kamikaze, open sesame, no control of the game football is what we’re looking for, he has it nailed on and is doing a great job at it because that’s what we’re playing.

“You can put that down to injuries, we have a load of injuries but a lot of teams have injuries and they still play a style of football they are trying to achieve. I don’t think Ten Hag’s style is this kamikaze chaos football.”

Ferdinand also reckons Ten Hag’s tactics with his central midfield pair Kobbie Mainoo and Casemiro when out of possession added to their problems and insists it does not reflect well on the manager.

“That type of football leads to seeing players at their worst at times, for instance Casemiro for all he has won and the great player he has been he will look a worse player when the tactics are the way they are,” he added.

Ratcliffe draws up two-man Man Utd shortlist

“Open transition football with big spaces around him, in that midfield at times another midfielder is 20 yards away. That never happened at Real Madrid so you don’t see his worst traits which is his mobility, same with Kobbie Mainoo, so you do things with a structure so you don’t see that.

“We are doing things where you are going to see exactly their worst trait so it makes them look worse at times.”

Speculation that Ten Hag is on borrowed time is now gathering serious pace with reports claiming United’s minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe has held a series of in depth conversations over whom could step in if the axe does indeed fall on Ten Hag.

And according to journalist Ben Jacobs, that hunt is likely to focus on two men in the form of Gareth Southgate and Julian Nagelsmann.

A third option, in Zinedine Zidane, has also come up for discussion, though Jacobs, in conversation with Givemesport, does not think the iconic Frenchman will be offered the job.

“The Gareth Southgate links come from the fact that Dan Ashworth worked with Southgate at the FA. Julian Nagelsmann is another candidate that it is believed wants to go back into club football,” he said.

“Zinedine Zidane will almost certainly be on the succession planning list, but being on the succession planning list doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get any contact or offered the job. It just means that you’re part of a collection of names that are there to explore.

“And then, if a change is made, that list will be whittled down.”

Of the pair, it would be interesting to see who they opt for, though TEAMtalk sources have indeed indicated that Southgate would be keen to take on the job if the opportunity arose.

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