Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag sack: Man Utd boss reveals Ratcliffe target to save his job as damaging Hojlund injury is confirmed

Erik ten Hag has held talks over his Manchester United future with new minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Erik ten Hag has held talks over his Manchester United future

Erik ten Hag admits that he knows exactly what he must do to avoid getting the sack at Manchester United after confirming he has held talks with Sir Jim Ratcliffe on the club’s ambitions – but a bitter injury blow to star striker Rasmus Hojlund could not have come at a worse time.

The Red Devils endured an insufferable start to the season, losing an alarming 15 of their first 30m games to send Manchester United tumbling out of the Champions League and way off the pace in the Premier League. That run of form – the club’s worst start to a season since 1930/31 – understandably saw Ten Hag‘s job put on the line with reports he was facing the sack reaching fever pitch over the autumn.

Since the turn of the year, however, United appear to rediscovered their mojo, having gone through 2024 unbeaten in their eight games played so far.

As a result, the club have eased their way into the FA Cup fifth round and have also managed to close the gap on the top four to just five points. United go into their match against Fulham on Saturday in sixth and hoping to draw level on points with Tottenham in fifth, who face a blank weekend owing to Chelsea’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final.

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While the pressure has eased somewhat on Ten Hag as a result, there is no denying that he needs his men to continue their good run of form between now and the season’s end to ensure he is still in the role next summer.

Ten Hag reveals Ratcliffe talks over Man Utd future

To that end, Ten Hag will try and win more silverware in the FA Cup – Nottingham Forest lie in wait on Wednesday as they strive to reach the quarter-finals – and, more importantly, also need to overhaul Villa and Spurs in the race for the top four.

Indeed, that success or failure in finishing in the top four will likely determine whether Ten Hag keeps his job or not come the summer, a worry thing for the Dutchman given one elite manager has already reportedly set his sights on the Manchester United job.

Now Ten Hag has admitted for the first time that he has held discussions with Ratcliffe over the club’s plans for the future. And the 54-year-old has been left under no illusions what it will take for him to avoid the chop.

Asked if he can reach those targets, Ten Hag stated: “Absolutely, I have that feeling!

“We have so many talks, we are very aligned. We have the same ambition, we are very aligned in the process. It’s normal pressure because we have the same ambition. We have the same targets.”

United have won four in a row heading into Saturday’s clash with the Cottagers at Old Trafford and Ten Hag knows all too well of the importance of qualifying for the Champions League with regards his future.

“It will always be the case,” he said. “But I see this team is developing, it’s progressing. I see we have now also the right age across the squad, we can make that even stronger and they will grow.

“We’re still in a moment where every game is a final for us. Of course, we have to be in the Champions League. The players all want this, the team wants this, we have a strong ambition and we belong there, that’s what we believe. But then you have to prove it.”

Huge Rasmus Hojlund injury blow confirmed

Ten Hag insists he has held several rounds of talks with Ratcliffe over the club’s ambitions.

“We speak a lot,” he said. “There are many conversations with him, with Dave Brailsford about this club, about the team, about the structures, we are very aligned. It totally fits with ambitions I have, with the ambitions I had when I came in.

“So we are in a project. For me, I’m now 19 months in and I see we are going in the right direction. We’ve had setbacks in the second season, but you see the team coming, you see the squad progressing and developing.

“We must keep going in this process, we must work hard on the training pitch, work hard during games. Of course, it’s important to have the players fit, but also to construct the squad. I’m sure we will be strong and we will be even stronger when we add to this squad even more qualities.”

United sadly will go into Saturday’s game without the services of star striker Hojlund, who will miss two to three weeks with a muscular injury.

Asked if that loss of the Dane could derail United’s push for the top four, Ten Hag added: “Of course that is an issue but other clubs have this and we have to deal with this. I feel we can deal with it better.

“All the players will have the opportunity to show their qualities. We have the confidence that they can. This is why we constructed this squad. We see players that are progressing that didn’t have a chance in the first half of season or were injured.

“Now they have the opportunity to fit into the team, but they have to prove it.”

Hojlund’s injury though could not have come at a worse time with the 21-year-old scoring eight times in his last eight games.

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