Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd manager hunt sees another name crossed off as Gareth Southgate drops huge future truthbomb

Erik ten Hag is unlikely to be replaced by Gareth Southgate as Manchester United manager

Erik ten Hag is unlikely to be replaced by Gareth Southgate as Manchester United manager

The hunt for a new Manchester United manager is now a straight 50/50 choice for Sir Jim Ratcliffe as he decides whether to back or sack Erik ten Hag after Gareth Southgate was ruled out of the running despite admitting there is a ‘strong chance’ he could leave the England job this summer.

The Red Devils endured something of a disjointed and inconsistent season having crashed out of the Champions League and Europe altogether before Christmas, before a failed Premier League campaign saw them suffer a record 14 defeats and finish in an all-time low of eighth. However, Manchester United then delivered their best performance of the season and served a timely reminder about what they are capable of, when they recorded a 2-1 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final and deny their rivals back-to-back Doubles.

Ten Hag had gone into the Wembley encounter with an enormous shadow hanging over his future, amid a strong report that claimed he would be sacked by United regardless of the outcome of the cup final.

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However, their victory – which was both tactically brilliant and proved United’s players can put in a performance for the manager when required – has given Ratcliffe serious doubts over what to do for the best.

To that end, a controversial pundit has branded Ratcliffe ‘cowardly’ and ‘weak’ for the way he has handled the Ten Hag saga, calling on the British billionaire to back the Dutchman and claiming that is what the majority of United fans want.

Nonetheless, United continue to talk to would-be candidates and had previously shortened their wishlist down to just a few names.

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Over the weekend, though, and following a fresh round of talks, one of those was officially ruled out of the hunt with Thomas Tuchel opting to take a rest from the game and deciding the timing was not right to take up the Red Devils role, had he been offered it.

And according to our information, that has left Ratcliffe down to his last two candidates to take charge of Old Trafford in recently-axed Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino, or England coach Southgate, whom has the strong support and is the recommended choice of Ratcliffe’s close ally, Sir Dave Brailsford.

TEAMtalk has previously revealed that Southgate would be keen to take up the United job if offered it, though publicly, he continues to insist his focus is very much on helping the national side end 58 years of hurt in the forthcoming European Championships. England’s campaign kicks off on Sunday evening with a clash against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.

Now Southgate has admitted for the first time that he will leave as England coach if their campaign for glory at Euro 2024 does not end in success.

“If we don’t win, I probably won’t be here anymore. Therefore, it might be the last chance,” Southgate told BILD.

“I think around half the national coaches leave after a tournament – that’s the nature of international football.

“I’ve been here for almost eight years now and we’ve come close. You can’t constantly put yourself in front of the public and say, ‘A little more please’, because at some point people lose faith.

“If we want to be a great team and I want to be a top coach, you must deliver in big moments.”

Man Utd manager hunt down to straight 50/50 choice

Southgate was asked if he had the option to extend his deal with the FA as England coach before Euro 2024 kicks off. But the 53-year-old, who has not worked in club football since 2009, had a straight answer.

“No. The reason is that there would have been more criticism, which would have put more pressure on the team.

“England did that once before with Fabio Capello [before the 2010 World Cup] and there was a big drama before the tournament.

“It’s better to check yourself after the tournament,” he concluded.

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Despite Southgate’s suggestions that he could be available, it seems Manchester United are no longer considering him as a manager candidate with it now claimed his timeline does not sit in line with theirs.

And if England go deep into the tournament, it could be another three or four weeks before Southgate becomes available (and assuming England don’t go on to win the competition).

Ratcliffe, however, wants a decision made way in advance of that and with the summer transfer window officially opening for business this week.

As a result, it’s now understood that Ratcliffe’s decision is now a 50/50 and between two men: either stick with Ten Hag into a third season and see if he can engineer the improvement many expect of him, or dismiss him and take a punt on long-time target Pochettino.

Either way, Ratcliffe will seemingly reach his decision by the end of this week with Ten Hag finally learning his fate at Old Trafford after what has seemed an agonising wait.