Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag picks three transfers to revive Man Utd as BBC pundit tears into Ratcliffe over ‘bizarre’ sack saga

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag, part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag and part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Erik ten Hag remains entirely convinced in his abilities to transform Manchester United around with two returning stars and three new signings part of the Dutchman’s masterplan for a much-improved 2024/25 campaign – though the way Sir Jim Ratcliffe handled the ‘back-him-or-sack-him’ saga has drawn strong criticism from a BBC pundit.

The Red Devils endured a bumpy season having crashed and burned in the Champions League, before recording their all-time worst ever Premier League finish in eighth. Having also suffered 14 defeats in the league along the way, Ten Hag was clinging to the Manchester United job by his fingernails, having seen all the progress made in his first season at the helm badly stunted.

Incredibly, United saved their best performance of the season until last with the Red Devils deservedly beating Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final to deny their opponents a historic double Double and winning in the process a second trophy of the Ten Hag era.

Going into the game, strong reports had suggested United were ready to axe the Dutchman regardless of how the match at Wembley unfolded. However, having shown himself tactically capable of bettering the very best, together with a team of players who were – contrary to popular belief – willing to fight for their manager’s cause – the FA Cup final win effectively saved Ten Hag’s job.

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That said, it still remains far from a foregone conclusion that Ten Hag will stay on with the 54-year-old openly critising Ratcliffe for the way talks over his future were handled.

The Dutchman even came clean on the INEOS chief’s approach for Thomas Tuchel, having made it clear his actions did not meet with his approval.

 

Man Utd boss Ten Hag unimpressed by Ratcliffe behaviour

Speaking of how United decided to keep him after a frustrating near two-week wait, Ten Hag stated: “It was a turbulent season. I was able to take a bit of a holiday. This week, United suddenly showed up on my doorstep. That they would like to continue with me.

“In any organisation it is wise that you evaluate and that you draw your conclusions from that. Manchester United has that and the new leadership then decided on this.”

Opening up on those talks with rival candidates, Ten Hag continued: “Everyone has heard that they have spoken to several candidates. In the Netherlands, something like that is not possible and it is not even allowed.

“You are not allowed to just talk to another club. as long as there is a current head coach. In England it is different. Manchester United have told me that they spoke with Tuchel, but they eventually came to the conclusion that they already have the best manager.”

And while Ten Hag is now in talks over an extension to his United deal – and TEAMtalk understands the Red Devils hope to extend his stay by a further two years on his existing agreement, running through to the 2027 – it is not yet a definite that Ten Hag will, for absolute certain, stick around.

However, all the signs do point to Ten Hag staying and he will undoubtedly use his new position of power to retain some degree of transfer control at Old Trafford.

That position has strengthened somewhat anyway following the club’s failure to agree compensation with Newcastle over the planned appointment of Dan Ashworth as sporting director.

Ten Hag eyes triple deal as three-pronged plan to revive Man Utd is revealed

Even before the detailed audit into his suitability to continue as United boss was conducted by technical director Jason Wilcox, at the request of Ratcliffe, the Dutchman had set out a three-point plan of action into how the team could and would improve under his control next season.

To kick things off, Ten Hag believes the return to fitness of left-sided defensive duo Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez will make a significant difference next season, with both player suffering from long injury lay-offs last season and leaving the Red Devils with something of a patched-up defence.

Indeed, Martinez missed a total of 188 days last season through a serious foot injury and then subsequent knee and calf problems, limiting the World Cup winner to just 14 appearances in all competitions.

Shaw, meanwhile, also only managed 15 games for the Red Devils, and with his understudy Tyrell Malacia also the entirity of the season, Ten Hag was often forced to field a makeshift backline with the likes of Sofyan Amrabat, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot all filling in at left-back.

The return to fitness of both players will make a sizeable improvement next season – and Ten Hag knows it.

Furthermore, the United manager wants to make at least three new signings to strengthen his squad, with a new centre-half, a central midfielder and a new striker all on their wishlist.

Plans to strengthen in all three positions are already well underway, with the club working on a new centre-half as their most urgent priority. An opening offer for Jarrad Branthwaite has been turned down, and while an improved bid is planned, United do have a list of other prospective targets.

And finally, Ten Hag wants to root out the players whom have perhaps not given their all to the cause and have proved something of a drain on resources. Anthony Martial and Raphael Varane were two costly stars to depart at the season’s end – but more could soon leave with Casemiro among those widely expected to depart.

Alan Shearer slams Man Utd over Ten Hag sack saga

With United’s new era under Ratcliffe effectively meaning Ten Hag will stay in situ, BBC pundit Alan Shearer has hit out at Ratcliffe over the way he handled the saga over whether to back or sack the Dutchman.

As well as Tuchel, United also sounded out Mauricio Pochettino, though no-one came closer than the departing Bayern Munich boss to taking the job.

Ultimately, and having met with the German in Monaco for talks on the job, Ratcliffe decided no-one was better equipped than Ten Hag to reverse the club’s fortunes, though their very public courtship of other candidates did not reflect well on the club according to BBC pundit Alan Shearer, who has lambasted the United chief for the way the “bizarre” situation unfolded.

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Shearer said: “It’s been confirmed that Ten Hag will stay on as the manager of United. Considering he had a bit of a pop at pundits after the FA Cup final, it was really interesting to see him being a pundit himself on television recently.

“But what a mess it’s been. How kind of United to go to Ibiza and inform him that he’s still wanted as the manager, and then tell him that they’ve even spoken to other candidates.

“It’s just a bizarre situation, it’s not how things should be done in football. If you’re going to speak to other managers, then speak to them, but keep it in house – you can’t let the public know.

“To be undermined like he has done, I know they’re now saying that he has their support and they want him to carry on, but from a personal and human point of view, it’s not the right way to treat someone.

“It takes a lot of his power away from him. Will the players look at him and think he’s a really strong manager and he’s in a strong position? Probably not, because of the way they have treated him. It was meant to be all new at Old Trafford with the very best coming in – I don’t think they’ve got off to a good start.”