Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Next Man Utd manager: Liverpool man reveals identity of Ten Hag successor as top candidate responds in style

Gareth Southgate is lurking in the shadows as Manchester United ponder the sacking of Erik ten Hag

Gareth Southgate is lurking in the shadows as Manchester United ponder the sacking of Erik ten Hag

Claims that Erik ten Hag faces the sack as Manchester United boss have gathered serious pace in the last 24 hours – and now former Liverpool star Jason McAteer claims he has been told by one current United player that Gareth Southgate has been lined up as his successor.

The Red Devils have stumbled from one crisis to another this season in what is shaping up to be the club’s WORST EVER Premier League campaign. Having lost 1-0 to Arsenal on Sunday, Manchester United have now lost a staggering 14 times in the league this season – and must win both remaining games (at home to Newcastle and away at Brighton) to avoid suffering the ignominy of it also being their lowest ever points tally ever recorded.

Currently on 54 points and on a minus four goals difference, United’s worst-ever tally was the 58 they recorded in the 2021/22 campaign – just prior to Ten Hag’s arrival as boss.

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And while they made significant strides during his first season at the helm, this current campaign has been nothing short of a disaster from almost the get-go – and with very little joy for their supporters to cling on to.

As a result, it is no surprise to see Ten Hag clinging on to his job for dear life. Currently contracted for another year until 2025, the United board are currently underdoing a thorough audit of his role and deciding whether to stick or twist ahead of the summer window.

Ten Hag sack: Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney have their say

By widespread accounts, however, the axe is very much due to fall on the Ten Hag with Sunday’s underwhelming loss to Arsenal only serving as further evidence to new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe that all is not as it should be and the players are just not responding to the Dutchman.

Indeed, just six days earlier Ratcliffe had seen their season reach a new nadir with a 4-0 trouncing at Crystal Palace. And while there was an improvement (of sorts) at home to Arsenal, a lack of goal threat hardly did much to inspire confidence ahead of the FA Cup final against Manchester City on May 25.

Despite that, both Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney would like to see Ten Hag given the chance to continue in the role, with the duo laying the blame at the players’ doors for the number of losses suffered this season.

“I hope he’s given more time,” Keane told Sky Sports when asked if United should sack the Dutchman.

“He’s an experienced manager,” the Irishman then explained. “(It’s) certainly not easy getting interviewed after the game where the stats for this team are so bad, in terms of the record defeats, where they are in the table, their struggles in Europe…

“Yeah they have a cup final coming up in a few weeks, it’s a tough interview. He’s trying to stay positive, tough questions he has been asked about the players behind him, is he tactically up to it.

“I would like to think so. I think there has been genuine problems at the club, the injuries, he’s pretty honest with that side of it. But the more games you are losing and when you are eighth in the table, I suppose you end up losing that belief.”

‘Injured stars fit to play’

Rooney then added: “Some of the injured Manchester United players are fit to play!”

When asked about Ten Hag’s future, the club’s all-time top scorer added: “When you’re losing games in the way they’re losing games, there’s going to be big questions asked.

“I think the players have to look at themselves, when you’ve got a manager talking about attitudes and players not being right to play for Manchester United, that’s a massive insult. If I see my manager saying that, there’s no way I would let that ride and ride until the end of the season.

“I would personally hope they do give him [Ten Hag] time, there are a lot of problems with recruitment, it hasn’t been good for a few years.

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Man Utd to sack Ten Hag and appoint Southgate claim made

Despite those strong words of support, it’s now felt Ten Hag is a man on borrowed time with the axe almost certain to fall once the current campaign draws to a close – with even victory in the FA Cup final not enough to save him.

One man who has been strongly tipped to succeed him this summer is Gareth Southgate, with his contract as England boss currently due to expire at the end of the calendar year.

The Three Lions boss has insisted his only focus is on guiding the nation to glory at this summer’s European Championships, which England will start among the favourites to win.

However, despite those strong denials, former Liverpool star McAteer has revealed that at least one United player has told him that they expect Southgate to be announced as Ten Hag’s successor later this summer and once England’s Euro 2024 adventure is over.

“I won’t name names because I don’t want to say who he is but he plays for Man United and I had a conversation with him on Friday, I bumped into him because I live just outside the area,” McAteer said on beIN Sports.

“We got into conversation, great lad, and I asked him about the end of the season and what he thought and he gave me no inclination that the manager was there to stay.

“In fact, we spoke about different names and who we thought will be a good fit and I got no inclination from him.”

When asked how the player reacted when Tuchel’s name was mentioned, McAteer replied: “Smile, but it wasn’t the name.”

Asked if Jose Mourinho was mentioned, McAteer replied: “No.”

Gareth Southgate was the next manager put forward to which McAteer replied: “Yeah, that was the name.”

McAteer then added: “Footballers have an inclination when the manager’s job is on the line and it goes around the camp, obviously they know don’t they, and I just got the feeling that it’s done, it’s done.”

Southgate responds instantly to new Man Utd rumours

Despite those fresh rumours that Southgate is the man chosen to succeed Ten Hag at Man Utd – and sources have indicated to TEAMtalk that the England boss would welcome the role if offered it – the 53-year-old has very quickly responded to the claims and moved to once again dismiss the notion that he would become the new boss at Old Trafford this summer.

Speaking to ITV News, Southgate insisted again that his only focus remains on England and that he is a huge job on his hands this summer.

“I’m not a big gambling man and bookies, they can make their odds but it’s not conversations that’s been had with me,” Southgate said.

“I’ve got one thing to focus on. That’s having as successful a tournament with England as possible. Everything else outside of that is a complete irrelevance to me.”

Southgate added: “If I start talking about that, then I’m already distracted from what I’m doing. So, I think the country would expect that my focus is on England, and rightly so it is. We’ve had three tournaments where we’ve taken the public on a brilliant ride.

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“I think we know that and I know that you’ve got that desire to go that one step further and this is a brilliant opportunity for us to do that.”

Southgate has been England coach since 2016 and could hit the 100-game milestone this summer.

Currently having led the team on 93 occasions, the Three Lions have won 57 times under him, giving him a win percentage record of 61.29%.

However, it is his strong relationship with United’s England contingent that makes him such a strong contender and, as a proven man-manager, he would likely already have a leg-up on Ten Hag, who it now seems has lost his players if Rooney’s words are proved accurate.