Man U manager Ten Hag's future unclear ahead of FA Cup final and Ratcliffe's overhaul

Thu, May 23, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Man U manager Ten Hag's future unclear ahead of FA Cup final and Ratcliffe's overhaul

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Change is happening at pace at Manchester United.

Where manager Erik ten Hag fits into that picture is uncertain.

Ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Manchester City, he avoided ongoing speculation about his position.

"I am just focusing on the job I have to do and that is, first, win the game on Saturday, and then we are in the project and keep going in the project," Ten Hag said on Thursday.

If the Cup final ultimately determines his future, then it is the most testing of final auditions for the Dutchman in front of his new boss, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe became co-owner of the club this year against the backdrop of 11 years of decline, impatient supporters, and City's increasing dominance of English soccer. He has wasted no time in getting to work.

Old Trafford could be upgraded. A new CEO has been hired, a technical director, too. A new sporting director is on the way. Ten Hag's position is the last major call to make.

There has been no indication from the club that the former Ajax manager is at risk. But the FA Cup represents his last chance to salvage a season in which United suffered its lowest ever finish in the Premier League (eighth), lost 14 times, and will take a financial hit for missing out on European soccer unless Ten Hag's team wins on Saturday.

READ MORE Union Berlin rebuilding continues as it appoints Bo Svensson as coach Injured Man United defender Maguire to miss FA Cup final West Ham's Lucas Paqueta charged with intentionally receiving yellow cards in Premier League matches

Even victory might not be enough to save his job after such a troubled campaign and his failure to meet Ratcliffe's stated target of Champions League qualification.

"I came here to win trophies. Saturday I have the next opportunity," Ten Hag said. "Then we will see where we are in the project and the things that we have to change."

There has been a theme to Ratcliffe's changes so far.

New CEO Omar Berrada was hired directly from City, where he was involved in the signing of Erling Haaland. Technical director Jason Wilcox came from Southampton, but previously headed up City's academy which has produced stars like Phil Foden and Cole Palmer.

Wilcox will assess how culpable Ten Hag is, whether he's been hampered by working within a failing structure that has seen United spend billions of pounds on underperforming players for more than a decade.

Ten Hag delivered the English League Cup in his first season in charge. His United lost last year's FA Cup final to City 2-1. Victory and revenge for Ten Hag at Wembley on Saturday would not erase all the doubts hanging over his head, but it would be a start.

"It is never easy, but we will go for it and have to believe it - as we did last season - and often against good opponents we play our best football," Ten Hag said. "I expect the same on Saturday."

___

James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

___

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

"
Article Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
MVPSportsConsulting.com