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Friday, June 14, 2024

The factor delaying Manchester United’s decision on Erik ten Hag

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Manchester United’s priority choice of Gareth Southgate is one factor complicating the decision over Erik ten Hag’s future, as Ineos are intent on getting the first big call of their era right.

The club’s new hierarchy have undertaken a review of the managerial situation but are unwilling to rush into any move. While Ten Hag himself is now pushing for clarity, and could yet leave by mutual consent, there is the possibility that the identity of next season’s manager drags out for weeks.

That is partly tied to the fact Southgate is the number one choice of the hierarchy, and he is unwilling to even discuss his future until after Euro 2024 for fear of distractions. While there is a belief that the England manager would be open to the job, the fact he would not even be willing to engage in firm talks until mid-July significantly adds to the factors that Ineos must consider.

United have naturally pressed on with assessing other candidates, including Brentford’s Thomas Frank and free agents Roberto De Zerbi, Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel. Frank has particularly impressed, and there is a long-term link with Pochettino, but a further issue is that none have, as yet, completely persuaded the hierarchy that this was a move they must make.

Tuchel is understood to have fallen down the list due to some differences in outlook. United are also more intent on building something for the long-term, whereas the German has been seen as an appointment that could offer a high-quality bridge to someone else.

That has granted Ten Hag more time, although the Dutch coach himself wants clarity on his future soon. While he would obviously prefer to stay in the job, the possibility of leaving by mutual consent has not been ruled out by those with knowledge of the situation.

United’s new senior figures like Sir Dave Brailsford have worked with Southgate in the past, and one reason he has become the main target for the job is the belief that he can be the figurehead for a wider cultural change at the club in the same way he did with England.

A strong coaching staff would similarly be developed underneath him, to go with the new football structure above. The protracted wait for Dan Ashworth’s arrival has illustrated that Ineos are willing to wait for exactly the right man in the most important positions.

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