Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag sack: Gary Lineker shares belief on next Man Utd boss as Gary Neville sends strong warning to Ratcliffe

Gary Neville, Erik ten Hag

Gary Neville fears for Erik ten Hag's Man Utd future

Gary Neville has made clear why Sir Jim Ratcliffe would be making a mistake in sacking Erik ten Hag after naming two reasons why he thinks he should keep his job – while Gary Lineker has identified the man he believes is the top choice to succeed the Dutchman.

The under-fire Manchester United boss defied the odds on Saturday by leading the Red Devils to FA Cup glory with a 2-1 win over Manchester City at Wembley, denying their arch rivals a double Double and earning Ten Hag the second trophy of his reign. However, the Dutchman went into the game under a massive stormcloud with strong reports – released in the days before the final – claiming Ratcliffe had decided to sack the manager regardless of how the cup final panned out.

However, an absolutely brilliant display saw Ten Hag not only steer United to glory, the fact he tactically outmanoevered one of the all-time greats in Pep Guardiola illustrated that perhaps United would be being hasty by removing Ten Hag from his role.

In the immediate aftermath of the win, Ten Hag laid his cards out on the table by urging Ratcliffe to move him on if he did not think he was the right man for the job.

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Much of the criticism coming his way had arrived off the back of a dismal Premier League and Champions League campaign, the former of which saw United slip to a club-record 14 defeats over the season and finish in an all-time low of eighth since the new era began in 1992.

But days later, Ten Hag is still waiting to learn his fate, with everyone associated with United left in some sort of limbo.

Ten Hag sack: Neville backs Dutchman to stay as Man Utd boss

However, one of the club’s most furious critics this season, Sky Sports pundit Neville, has come out and declared that United’s ‘beautiful’ win over City on Saturday proves that Ten Hag deserves the chance to continue in the hotseat and that Ratcliffe would be making a blunder by swinging the axe now.

“I couldn’t face going to Wembley on Saturday,” Neville said on The Overlap newsletter. “That’s how little confidence I had in United’s ability to stop City doing the double again!

“And yet it turned out to be a beautiful day. And a great performance after a horrible season that might just change everything for Erik ten Hag…

“There’s no doubt Ten Hag’s FA Cup win has put Manchester United in an awkward position. This has been an unacceptably poor Premier League season for the club.

“Of course, Ten Hag will argue that he hasn’t had anything like a consistent enough squad to pick from, especially his back four. But even so, the lack of control in many games has been alarming.

“And yet he has two cups in two years. He has proven he can win trophies with this side. He has matched Jose Mourinho as the most successful United manager since Sir Alex Ferguson.”

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On whether United should sack Ten Hag, Neville commented: “I think he’s earned the right to go on. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement but the first consideration when removing a manager is you have the right and better replacement.

“Simply there is no outstanding candidate to replace him that would make an immediate and massive upgrade.”

Ten Hag is United’s best option – Neville

The likes of Gareth Southgate, Roberto De Zerbi and Kieran McKenna have all been linked with the United job in recent weeks but Neville does not think any of the trio would fare any better than Ten Hag, who is at least a proven trophy winner.

“If you have the opportunity to appoint someone like Jurgen Klopp, as Liverpool did in 2015, or Pep Guardiola, as City did in 2016, then it makes sense to change.

“But there’s no-one out here who will suddenly take this United squad on to another level. They might do somewhat better but even with Guardiola in charge, this United team wouldn’t win the Premier League.

Speaking just before his holiday and following United’s cup victory, Ten Hag stated: “I don’t know [if he will still be in charge next season].

“The only thing I’m doing is preparing my team, developing my team. This is a project for me. When I came in I can say it was a mess. Now we are better. We are not where we want to be.”

Ten Hag has also earned the backing to continue by veteran defender Jonny Evans, who stated: “You want a manager who shows trust and belief.

“I’ve only got really good things to say about him. Over the last month, he has shown incredible tactical flexibility.

“Sitting off and counter-attacking is not the style he sees himself coaching but he has recognised the right time to do it and has done it.”

Next Man Utd manager: Gary Lineker lets slip likely successor to Ten Hag

Despite the uncertainty, speculation continues to swirl around Ten Hag and that will remain the case until the cliub comes out and either makes a statement backing their manager, or decides to let the axe fall.

The possibility of the latter becoming a thing has grown over the last 10 days following Chelsea’s decision to part company with Mauricio Pochettino – a man for a long time seen as a United manager in waiting.

Now the Argentine has become available, many believe the former Tottenham and PSG boss looks a natural successor to Ten Hag  – with Match of the Day host, Gary Lineker, among those expecting the 52-year-old to take over the reins this summer.

Speaking on The Rest is Football podcast, Lineker admits he could ‘upset a few people’ by revealing why he thinks Pochettino will take charge.

“There were a few rumours about Pochettino and he said a few things that made you think all was not well at Chelsea,” Lineker said.

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“But I just couldn’t believe it [his sacking]. It doesn’t make any sense. In terms of Pochettino, the way they finished the season, and his position as a coach, I don’t think that’s gone down at all in people’s minds.”

Lineker then added on the Argentine’s future.

“I think he’ll be fine and will get a good job. I’m tempted to say possibly Manchester United but we don’t want to upset Erik or the United fans again,” he joked.

Ten Hag has previously had a huge pop at pundits who continually make his job near impossible and Lineker added after speaking to Ten Hag in the wake of Saturday’s win.

“He came over and he didn’t seem very happy right from the start. I think he also had a pop at Roy Keane, so he obviously had something in his mind when he came over,” he said.

“I asked the question, ‘Do you think you’ve been unfairly treated by pundits, and even us?’ Obviously, it’s our job to be critical on occasion, we have to say what we think,” Lineker explained.