Ten Hag prepares for FA Cup final amid sacking reports

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has faced increased speculation about his future this weekGetty Images
  • 24 May 2024

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is preparing for the FA Cup final without knowing whether reports that he will be sacked, no matter what the result, are true.

Rumours about Ten Hag’s future intensified on Friday morning before the Guardian reported the Dutchman would lose his job in the aftermath whatever the outcome of Saturday’s Wembley meeting with Manchester City (15:00 BST).

United have refused to comment on the story.

Club sources are adamant their focus is purely on the second consecutive cup final meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side and trying to end what has been a tortuous season on a high.

There have been discussions with potential managerial targets but it is being stressed they remain committed to an end-of-season review, after which a decision on Ten Hag’s future will be made.

BBC Sport understands there has been no contact with Ten Hag or his representatives by United since the Guardian report.

In an interview with Dutch football magazine Voetbal International, which was conducted earlier in the week and published on Saturday, Ten Hag said United’s new co-owners – Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group – had told him they “want to change everything and that they want to rebuild with me, this is what they told me directly”.

In a section of his pre-match news conference on Thursday, the content from which was embargoed until Friday evening, Ten Hag was asked whether talks were planned with the club’s new ownership group next week.

“No, we already did it and on Sunday I will go on holiday,” he said. “I think I deserve it.”

When he was then asked if he had been given any assurances about his future with the club, where his contract still has a year to run, Ten Hag replied: “It is not necessary. We will go for next season.”

The situation has uneasy echoes of eight years ago, when Ten Hag’s fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal learned he was about to be sacked as United’s victory over Crystal Palace in the 2016 final ended.

Van Gaal was informed of the decision by United’s hierarchy 24 hours later.

United go into the FA Cup final with City knowing defeat will mean no European football next season for only the second time since 1981-82, excluding the five-year period when all English clubs were banned.

They finished eighth in the Premier League, one place below the David Moyes season of 2013-14, and their lowest since 1989-90.

Replacements have been suggested in the form of Thomas Tuchel, Gareth Southgate, Mauricio Pochettino, Kieran McKenna, Thomas Frank and others.

Schmeichel would be surprised if Ten Hag stays

Former Manchester United keeper Peter Schmeichel believes Ineos, which bought a 27.7% stake in the club in February, will part ways with Ten Hag as they implement their “project”.

Ineos took control of football operations after becoming a minority owner and former Manchester City executive Omar Berrada is set to join United as chief executive in the summer, while Jason Wilcox has already joined as technical director.

United are also looking to hire sporting director Dan Ashworth, who was placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after telling them he wanted to join the Red Devils.

“We’ve been talking about Erik’s position for a very, very long time,” Schmeichel told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We’ve seen everybody else at the top of Manchester United has left the club and new people coming in.

“I’d be very surprised if he’s the manager next year to be honest because, the way they’ve been going about the first couple of months in charge, it points to [wanting] a completely new and a clean start and it to be their project.”

Schmeichel added: “I hate that fact that Manchester United has become a club that keeps a manager for a short time and when things are not going in the right direction you sack him.

“Since Alex Ferguson’s time it’s really just [been] eroding with no leadership from the top and it’s just been let go.

“I really honestly don’t know what the project is.”

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