Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag sack: Man Utd decision already made, as Gary Neville outlines where it all went wrong

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Erik ten Hag, Gary Neville, Man Utd

Gary Neville has hinted Manchester United may have already made a decision on whether to sack Erik ten Hag, while the pundit also delivered a scathing assessment of the Dutchman’s managerial capabilities.

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s partial takeover now approved, major change is afoot at Old Trafford. Omar Berrada has been successfully lured from Manchester City to take up the CEO position. Berrada has replaced Richard Arnold and the coup is widely viewed as a magnificent one for Ratcliffe and INEOS who have full sporting control at United.

Newcastle’s Dan Ashworth is the next man in their sights. Ashworth is seen as best in class for the sporting director role, though may cost as much as £20m to prise out of Newcastle.

Elsewhere, the manager’s position is also under the microscope amid fears United will fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League. United currently sit eight points off Aston Villa following their last-gasp defeat to Fulham on Saturday.

Missing out on the top four would impact United’s ability to overhaul their squad in the summer. Ten Hag and Ratcliffe have both publicly talked up the importance of being in the UCL in recent weeks.

In the event United do intend to make a change, they’ll be by no means the only club seeking a new manager.

Indeed, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are in the market for a new boss.

Jurgen Klopp announced he’ll step away from Anfield at season’s end, while Thomas Tuchel and Bayern have mutually agreed to part ways in the summer. Xavi has also announced he’ll leave Barca when the current campaign concludes.

Liverpool look to have stolen a march on securing the signature of Xabi Alonso amid a hugely positive double update on Tuesday morning.

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With one top tier manager potentially already off the table, Man Utd face the very real prospect of selecting a new manager from other clubs’ cast-offs.

That was a scenario put forward on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football during a conversation between presenter Dave Jones and pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.

When Neville was asked to respond, the Man Utd legend suggested his former club won’t repeat past mistakes of sleepwalking into poor decisions they’ve made several months too late.

Instead, Neville believes Ratcliffe and INEOS chief Sir Dave Brailsford have likely already reached a decision on whether to sack Ten Hag – irrespective of whether United qualify for the Champions League.

“I suspect they’ve already come to a conclusion already” – Gary Neville

“If you look at [Omar Berrada] coming in from City as CEO, and looking to get Dan Ashworth from Newcastle, they’re going to make a decision quite quickly if they haven’t already,” said Neville.

“I suspect Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford already know whether Erik ten Hag will be the manager next season. I can’t believe they’re going to wait until May to make that decision, and then leave themselves short.

“Where Man Utd have been found out in the last 10 years in recruitment is making poor decisions, late decisions, not being ahead of the game.

“I don’t think they’re going to do that, so for me I suspect they’ve already come to a conclusion already. It may already be that it’s Champions League or not, they still will stick with that decision.”

Where has it gone wrong for Ten Hag?

Carragher pinpointed the huge spaces United leave between their defence and midfield as one reason why they concede so many shots and are vulnerable to the counterattack.

Several clips of United’s midfield joining the high press were shown despite the backline dropping deep. The end result was vast open spaces in the centre of the pitch opposing teams can and often have exploited.

Neville concurred when delivering his own assessment and claimed a disconnect between the defence and midfield is an issue Ten Hag has had eight months to address, though for whatever reason, hasn’t done so.

“There isn’t anybody who watches Man Utd whether you’re a fan or not a fan who knows what they’re trying to do every single week, and that is an issue,” added Neville.

“I was just thinking about the first Monday Night Football of the season against Wolves, when you had Casemiro in midfield with Mount and Fernandes pushing up.

“Those spaces in midfield alongside Casemiro were just drastic. It’d been spotted in pre-season as well, in some of those matches. It’s something which has happened repeatedly for eight or nine months – they’ve just not been able to shake it off.

“It’s pretty obvious Erik ten Hag is going to be judged on results in the last part of the season, and obviously getting into the Champions League spots is important. But there is going to be a demand, I suspect, on performance levels – and feeling like the club is going in the right direction on the pitch.

“When the performance levels are like this, so inconsistent, and at times during games really poor, you’re going to lose games. It’s a big problem for the manager.”

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