Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag sack: Man Utd boss told failure to hit mind-boggling target would see Ratcliffe swing the axe

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag could lose his job at Manchester United if he fails to achieve one specific aim this season, according to one observer.

The future looked bright after Ten Hag’s first season at Old Trafford, with Man Utd lifting their first trophy (League Cup) since 2017 and securing qualification to the Champions League.

Many of the Dutchman’s major signings also performed to a high standard last term. Lisandro Martinez proved his plethora of doubters wrong at the back, while Christian Eriksen looked an inspired free-agent pick-up and Casemiro led by example in the engine room.

However, United’s situation has soured on multiple fronts this term and Ten Hag looks powerless to alter the slide.

Many of his new recruits – such as Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund – are yet to make an impact. United were humbled in the Champions League when finishing bottom of their group and have also struggled mightily in front of goal.

The club’s forwards are all misfiring and only Sheffield United (15) and Burnley (20) have scored fewer than United’s 22 league goals this term.

It’s been a dour campaign from start to present and with major change afoot, speculation will continue to swirl regarding the manager’s position.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 25 percent stake in Man Utd was announced on Christmas Eve. The partial takeover is still awaiting ratification from the Premier League, though Ratcliffe will assume full control of sporting matters at United once approved.

Talk of Ten Hag losing his job during the season has cooled. However, according to former United winger, Lee Sharpe, Ten Hag could be fired if he fails to guide his side to a top six finish.

Sharpe lifted three Premier League titles during his eight-year stint with the Red Devils and his claim about merely finishing in the top six is a worrying indication of just how far United have fallen.

Worst-ever Prem finish could see off Ten Hag

“I don’t think there would be any reason to sack Erik ten Hag before the end of the season,” began Sharpe (as quoted by the Mirror). “I’m not sure there’s a great list of candidates to take over from him either if I’m honest.

“I also think he’s had a tough time with injuries and a few issues to deal with off the pitch as well, so I think it’s a bit early to pull the plug at this current moment.

“However, I think top six is at least where they need to finish, and if they do finish outside the top six at the end of the season, then the manager could be under real pressure. It’s such a difficult call to say where they’ll finish.

“They’re so frustrating and so inconsistent at the moment – one minute you think they’ve turned the corner, they have a brilliant game, the next game they can’t score and they get beat.”

Man Utd have finished outside of the top six just once in the Premier League era. David Moyes was the manager in charge during the ill-fated 2013/14 campaign.

Even poor seasons experienced under the likes of Louis van Gaal, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick saw United finish no lower than sixth.

United currently lay in eighth spot and a worst-ever Premier League finish would give Ratcliffe and INEOS chief Sir Dave Brailsford a serious decision to make next summer.

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