Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Next Man Utd manager: Appointment of ‘stand-out candidate’ takes shape as Ten Hag sack fears grow

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi and Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag

Roberto De Zerbi has emerged as the 'stand-out candidate' to replace Erik ten Hag

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has emerged as the ‘stand-out candidate’ to replace Erik ten Hag as the next Manchester United manager amid growing fears a sack decision has already been made, according to reports.

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s partial takeover receiving final approval in February, a new era is dawning at Old Trafford. The British billionaire aims to knock Manchester City and Liverpool off their perch and reinstall Man Utd as the dominant force in England.

To do so, Ratcliffe and right-hand man Sir Dave Brailsford have carried out an extensive audit into practices at Man Utd.

Major change is afoot, with Omar Berrada the first to arrive. The highly-regarded CEO was plucked from Man City and has replaced Richard Arnold as CEO at United.

Dan Ashworth is next in Ratcliffe’s sights. The Newcastle sporting director is being eyed to replace John Murtough as sporting director with the Red Devils.

Furthermore, Southampton chief, Jason Wilcox, is also being targeted. Wilcox worked wonders as academy director at Man City before becoming Southampton’s sporting director in January of 2023.

If brought to Old Trafford, Wilcox would head up the recruitment team and report directly to Ashworth.

The changes are also expected to extend to the playing personel, with a radical squad overhaul expected.

Furthermore, Erik ten Hag’s position as manager of Manchester United is also under the microscope.

Ten Hag sack fears grow; decision already made?

Both Ten Hag and Ratcliffe have publicly talked up the importance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Failure to do so would greatly impact United’s ability to revamp their squad in the summer.

United currently sit eight points off Aston Villa in fourth and with a visit to the Etihad awaiting on Sunday, that gap could grow by the time the weekend is through.

However, United legend Gary Neville recently stated he believes a decision on whether to sack Ten Hag has already been made.

Now, according to online outlet Football Insider, Ten Hag is reportedly not viewed as the long-term manager of Man Utd.

Furthermore, a fresh update from FI has claimed Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has emerged as the preferred option to replace the Dutchman, potentially as early as this summer.

Why Man Utd have landed on De Zerbi

United have been linked with all manner of top class managers of late. Indeed, reports in Italy claimed Inter Milan’s Simone Inzaghi has been targeted, while the out-of-work Zinedine Zidane would represent a superstar option in name value at least.

But per FI, De Zerbi has surged clear of every other potential candidate for two specific reasons.

Firstly, his ‘front-foot, aggressive playing style’ is viewed as better suited to Man Utd’s ethos. Secondly, De Zerbi ‘has a proven track record of improving and developing players.’

Levi Colwill came on leaps and bounds during his loan season at the AMEX. Another example of De Zerbi’s ability to improve young players lays with Evan Ferguson.

Indeed, the Republic of Ireland striker has been widely tipped to become British football’s most expensive ever player when the time comes to leave Brighton.

As such, De Zerbi, 44, is reportedly seen as the ‘stand-out candidate’ by Man Utd. What’s more, there’s a connection to Dan Ashworth that could potentially serve United well.

Ashworth was reportedly the man who identified De Zerbi as the ideal candidate to replace Graham Potter at Brighton back in 2022. Ashworth was working for Brighton at the time before being poached by Newcastle further down the line.

Ashworth had left Brighton at the time of De Zerbi’s appointment, though it’s reported he was ‘heavily involved in the process’ of landing the Italian.

TEAMtalk has learned De Zerbi is also being eyed at Chelsea who are warming to the idea of sacking Mauricio Pochettino.

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