Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag sack: Dream next job lined up to give Man Utd, Ashworth freedom to appoint No 1 manager pick

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag and incoming new sporting director, Dan Ashworth

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag and incoming new sporting director, Dan Ashworth

Manchester United have been told they will likely get a clear run to appoint Dan Ashworth’s top choice as their new manager this summer after Erik ten Hag was told by a source in his homeland that a dream return to a former club was a growing possibility.

The Red Devils enjoyed a progressive first season under the Dutchman’s command, finishing third in the Premier League and reaching two domestic cup finals which saw trophy success delivered in the Carabao Cup. However, little has gone right for Ten Hag this time around with the Dutchman forced to wave the white flag on the chances of Manchester United securing a return to the Champions League with another top-four finish this season.

Indeed, Saturday’s tame 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Burnley came just days after the Red Devils made hard work of despatching one of the worst Premier League sides in recent memory in Sheffield United. United ultimately prevailed 4-2 – but not without going behind twice in another chaotic game at Old Trafford.

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With the knives sharpening for Ten Hag, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has ordered recently-appointed technical director Jason Wilcox to perform a thorough audit of the Dutchman’s capabilities. Once the results of that report are presented to the British billionare, a decision will then be made over whether to stick or twist over the Dutchman.

As it stands, Ten Hag is nearing the end of the second season of an initial three-year deal. United do have the option on a fourth year in that contract, while they could always look to extend his stay beyond the 2025 expiry as it stands right now.

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However, all the signs point to Ten Hag’s departure this summer.

And in light of what could yet prove to be their worst ever points return over a Premier League season (they currently have 54 points, while their record low is the 58 set in the 2021/22 season), together with a new alarming trend of conceding both a lot of changes and, subsequently, an avalanche of late goals, the writing appears to be on the wall.

Sky Sports pundit Tim Sherwood was certainly less than complimentary about Ten Hag and his style of play at United when analysing their disappointing draw against the Clarets this weekend.

However, with the axe at Old Trafford looming large, the Red Devils will be forced to pay up the final year of the Dutchman’s contract – a compensation payment which would reportedly set the club back some £7m to £8m.

Nonetheless, incoming new sporting director Ashworth has reportedly recommended to Ratcliffe three potential successors for the Dutchman in Gareth Southgate, Roberto De Zerbi and Graham Potter: three men he knows well from his time in the game.

Departing Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel has also been touted as a strong contender this weekend too.

The German’s credentials in taking the job have also been talked up by a legendary United star, who believes Tuchel is the calibre of manager the Red Devils out to be attracting.

READ MORE ~ Next Man Utd manager: Tuchel explodes into major contention with Ratcliffe ‘ready to sack’ Ten Hag

Ten Hag sack at Man Utd exit to lead to return to former club

The situation around Ten Hag is also headline news in his native Netherlands, not least because his former club Ajax are themselves seeking a new manager too this summer after an underwhelming campaign.

With the Amsterdam giants currently sat fifth but a whopping 35 points adrift of recently-crowned Eredivisie champions PSV, a major rebuilding job is needed at Ajax.

The likes of Francesco Farioli, Pep Lijnders and Albert Stuivenburg have been linked with the vacancy, but they have also interviewed Potter for the job too.

And while the Englishman impressed, they have stopped short on offering him the job, with reports in the Netherlands suggesting they are waiting to see if Ten Hag is axed by United first; thus giving them the opportunity to bring back their former coach.

The possibility of Ten Hag returning to Amsterdam and Potter taking the United job is a strong topic in Holland and journalists Mike Verweij and Valentijn Driessen believe the prospective move has legs.

“Again, the information we have is that he (Potter) is not number one at Ajax either,” Verweij said.

“Ajax wants Ten Hag and Kroes also wants to wait for that. It is a kind of poker game, because on the one hand you want to wait for your dream candidate, but not too long, otherwise the trainer’s carousel will start moving and you will miss your numbers two and three.

“So that is a very difficult game. Ten Hag is definitely number one.

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“I also heard on English radio that Potter is waiting for Manchester United,” added Driessen.

“That would be a good swap: Potter to United and Ten Hag to Ajax. Ten Hag is just not yet convinced that he should wobble at United.

“I still think Potter will remain comfortable in the armchair and that his preference will be for the Premier League and then you can end up with Farioli,” concluded Verweij.

Ten Hag currently has a 57.80 win percentage record at Manchester United, having claimed victories in 63 of his 109 games in charge.