Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag confident Man Utd sack talk is false after ‘positive’ Ratcliffe meeting as £40m midfielder exit is explained

Erik ten Hag, the manager of Manchester United, image via MUFC TV

Erik ten Hag - image via MUFC TV

Erik ten Hag is confident he is not in danger of the sack at Manchester United and claims he has been left with a “fantastic feeling” after the latest round of talks over the club with incoming new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

The Red Devils have struggled badly for consistency this season, having suffered a hugely alarming 14 defeats from their 28 games played across all competitions. With Manchester United suffering their worst start to a campaign since 1930, it is little wonder to see the heat rising on Ten Hag as a result, with reports gathering pace in recent weeks that he is in growing danger of the sack.

With United now having been dumped out of Europe altogether after finishing bottom of their Champions League group, as well as losing their grip on the Carabao Cup they won last season, it means Monday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Wigan takes on huge importance for the club.

It’s certainly a game Ten Hag cannot afford to lose and he knows the importance of a good performance and a win to keep the wolves from his door.

Making clear that his side will give the competition their all, he stated: ”We still have the Premier League, so we have two trophies to play for. We will play for the Premier League and for the FA Cup.”

While it is highly unlikely United can win the Premier League given their current 14-point deficit to top dogs Liverpool, qualifying for the top four and returning to the Champions League again next season is now the minimum expected from a manager, who has spent well in excess of £400m since taking charge two summers ago.

READ MORE: Seven contenders to replace Erik ten Hag if he is sacked as Manchester United manager

Ten Hag sack talk dismissed with Man Utd boss confident after INEOS chat

As a result, the pressure will undoubtedly be on at Old Trafford for Ten Hag and anything less than a top-four finish could see his position put in major doubt.

To that end, reports have already stated that INEOS owner Ratcliffe has already held positive talks with former Chelsea bos Graham Potter about the Manchester United job.

To many, Potter is the seen as the most likely successor for Ten Hag if the axe to fall.

However, the Dutchman insists he is paying no attention to speculation over his future and insists in his own meetings with INEOS that he has a big hope over the future.

Speaking via the club’s official site, Ten Hag stated: ”So once again, that [my future] is not up to me.

“But from my talks I had a fantastic feeling after it. How their personalities and ideas affect the process they want to go in. So I am very positive about that and I am sure it will be beneficial to Manchester United.”

Asked more about that shared vision, Ten Hag responded: ”I think it is too soon to share that and I don’t think this is the place to share that.”

Ten Hag, however, insists he is feeling upbeat about his side’s FA Cup chances and promised his players will be up for the task against League One Wigan.

”It is a cup game, so it is do or die. So I like it but we have had this situation before this season and we have to be ready for the game.

“We had one game [last season] to decide the winner, and we were not [it]. So we have to make sure we get ready for that game and we will face an opponent who is 100 percent [ready] and will give more than 100 percent, as every opponent is going more than 100 per cent against Manchester United. But especially this time and we have to be well prepared for the game.”

Ten Hag explains Donny van de Beek exit

United are yet to make any signings of their own this month, but have done some business with midfielder Donny van de Beek completing a loan move to Eintracht Frankfurt for the remainder of the season.

That move gives the Bundesliga side the option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.

Realistically, the £40m signing from Ajax in summer 2020 had to move on for the good of his career, having failed to justify his huge fee.

The appointment of his former mentor, Ten Hag, at United had sparked suggestions that the footballing world may see a revival from the player, but the harsh truth of the matter is that he never really looked cut out to play for United and leaves Old Trafford with a bleak record of just two goals from 62 appearances.

Responding to questions that life at Old Trafford is simply too great for some players, and in explaining the decision to move him on, Ten Hag explained: ”Yes, he has had many injuries and that is first of all. I have now worked two years with him and before he worked under different managers here as well. He had another loan as well.

“From the moment I came here at Man United, he wasn’t the player I had at Ajax because he was injured and so many times he was unavailable. Then he struggled for a long time with recovering from that injury.

“So I think that is probably the main reason for why he wasn’t playing. Then we decided on a loan in the summer and nothing came, then his opportunities were so few because also we made appointments and agreements with players and there was conflict in those positions, the competition was high.”

Van de Beek failure won’t put off others

Van de Beek had been on the shortlist to win the Ballon d’Or prior to his move to Old Trafford and was touted as one of the best young midfielders in the world game when he first made the move.

Asked if his failure may put off other prospective signings, Ten Hag commented: “That is always on the players and what [kind of] confidence you have. Your capabilities. I can tell you one thing and that is that the Premier League is tough and at Man United it is tough to play here, because in every other team it is easier to play there because there is less pressure.

“It is so high and you have to deal with that. But if you have confidence in yourself, than I think this is the best challenge.

Definitely it is the best club you want to be at and that depends from player to player, it is also about the character. The personality of the player.”

Asked about INEOS’ transfer strategy and whether they had criticised the club’s recruitment over the past 10 years, Ten Hag added: ”It is not up to me to share that with you.”

Despite critics, Ten Hag goes into the game at DW Stadium with the best win percentage record of any United manager post Sir Alex Ferguson, having won 53 of his 90 games since his appointment. That gives him a win percentage record of 58.89%.

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