Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Next Man Utd manager: Star defends Ten Hag amid sack claims as top Ratcliffe choice emerges

Erik ten Hag has earned backing from Man Utd midfielder Scott McTominay amid sack claims

Erik ten Hag has earned backing from Man Utd midfielder Scott McTominay amid sack claims

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay has spoken up in defence of Erik ten Hag amid claims he may quit as manager before he is sacked and following new claims that Sir Jim Ratcliffe now has a top successor in mind to replace him at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman has seen speculation over his future intensify in recent weeks after a topsy-turvy season for Manchester United. A miserable Premier League campaign saw the Red Devils suffer a record 14 defeats and finish in the all-time lowly position of eighth, while they also crashed out of the Europe before Christmas after losing four of six Champions League Group A games.

However, Ten Hag proved what he is capable of when leading United to FA Cup glory as they claimed a 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Wembley, illustrating that not only is he the man for the big occasion, but that tactically, he can inspire his players to beat the best.

Going into the game, Ten Hag had been dogged by claims that, regardless of the outcome in the cup final, Ratcliffe had decided to axe the Dutchman following an audit into his capabilities of continuing in the role for a third season.

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And with speculation heating up over the candidates who were under consideration to step into the Old Trafford hotseat as his successor – the likes of Thomas Tuchel has already been spoken to by United chiefs, while TEAMtalk has also learned that former Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino would welcome an approach – the Dutchman hit out at both supporters and pundits alike ahead of the season finale.

Ten Hag sack: Scott McTominay defends under-fire Man Utd boss

However, two weeks on since their FA Cup success – the second trophy Ten Hag has won for the club, pitching him alongside Jose Mourinho as their most-successful manager since Sir Alex Ferguson – the Dutchman is still waiting to learn his fate.

In the wake of their victory, Ten Hag called on those in power to Old Trafford to “let him win trophies elsewhere” if they no longer wanted him as manager.

And while much of the delay has owed to United not having a clear idea of whom to replace the Dutchman with, Red Devils midfielder McTominay has come out to defend Ten Hag over his record so far and the way in which he has handled himself in the wake of strong condemnation in the media.

“Sometimes people can have their opinions and say whatever they want. City are an amazing team, but we stuck together,” McTominay told the Daily Mail.

“I want more moments like that. I came away from that FA Cup final thinking, ‘D’you know what, I want more of that’. That is my motivation.

“Every credit to Erik. The media makes it difficult. That’s the case for any Manchester United manager, given the magnitude of the club. That’s only normal, but he’s handled it extremely well.

“I am very, very pleased for him… he deserved that FA Cup. It’s not easy when everyone is writing you off, and you come up trumps.

“It makes a big difference to the feeling and confidence around the place. We know as players how big the club is. We expect everything that comes our way, whether it’s positive or negative.”

Next Man Utd manager: Ratcliffe chooses Ten Hag successor

With a plethora of names linked with the role of succeeding Ten Hag, a report on Friday revealed that Ratcliffe’s top choice to take charge is Gareth Southgate and that a move to appoint him as manager will be made once England’s Euro 2024 campaign is over.

TEAMtalk correspondent Fraser Gillan has previously reported that the Man Utd job is of interest to Southgate with his deal with the Football Association currently due to expire at the end of the calendar year.

Now it has been claimed that the 53-year-old – despite not working in club football since 2009 and having been branded too cautious in his tactical approach to the game – has emerged as No 1 pick to become the next Red Devils boss.

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Following a recommendation from Ratcliffe’s close ally, Sir Dave Brailsford, Ratcliffe is ready to choose Southgate to help inspire a cultural change at Man Utd.

The Red Devils have become synonymous with underachievement, while leaks from the dressing room have become commonplace too.

Southgate cannot be faulted for his work off the pitch with England and now INEOS supremo Brailsford believes Southgate could have a similar impact at Old Trafford.

Incredibly, the same article, from the Independent, also claims Ten Hag is ready to leave by mutual consent, rather than wait to be sacked, with the delay around the announcement caused as the two parties look to settle on compensation.

Ten Hag’s current deal is due to expire in summer 2025, though United do have a year’s option on that.