What’s next for Man Utd and Ten Hag? The key questions answered

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What’s next for Man Utd and Ten Hag? The key questions answered

Sky Sports News’ senior reporter Melissa Reddy answers the key questions facing Manchester United and their review into Erik ten Hag’s time at the club.

What is happening with Man Utd’s review of Ten Hag’s tenure?

This is such an intriguing element. We’ve established that pretty much since it was confirmed that INEOS would be taking over football operations, Sir Dave Brailsford has been engaging players and staff over their thoughts on the problems at Manchester United. Captain Bruno Fernandes, for example, has provided a window into these conversations.

One of Jason Wilcox’s key tasks since officially joining as technical director over a month ago has been a more comprehensive audit of the game model, training sessions, the relationship between the coaching staff and the dressing room as well as how they interact with other areas of performance like sports science and recruitment.

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With his future at Manchester United in doubt, Erik ten Hag was in defiant mood following his side’s FA Cup triumph over rivals Manchester City.

The examination into Ten Hag’s spell has long been in motion, and the manager revealed that the review and his discussion with United’s hierarchy has already happened. He is now on holiday.

Despite already having all the information, and with Ten Hag believing the assessment has been done, the club say their review will now take place.

There is a sense that, having been made conscious of the comparisons to how Louis van Gaal was sacked, United don’t want to spoil the FA Cup final celebrations or be accused of callousness. It would also not be in their best interests to announce any decision without having their path forward completely firmed up.

There has been enough evidence of clubs publicly messing up their succession planning in the last few months – Bayern being the chief example – and United do not want to repeat that.

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Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy explains when any decision on Erik ten Hag’s future at Manchester United is likely to be decided.

Why are Man Utd meeting with potential successors during their review?

They would say they are simply exploring options and doing due diligence. However, if you are not minded to part with your manager, why are you engaging the representatives of those who you’d like to replace him? And how should he feel knowing the club are doing so while he doesn’t have clarity over his future?

It is perfectly normal and understandable that a new leadership group would want their own pick as manager, but people close to Ten Hag have been annoyed by a lack of communication and “personal and professional respect.”

Who are among those options then?

Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel, Thomas Frank, Kieran McKenna

Image: Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel, Thomas Frank, Kieran McKenna are all potential candidates for Man Utd.

Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel, both of whom have been heavily considered in the past. However, as Sky Sports reported last month, a source pointed out there are reservations that no other big club plumped for the German once Bayern Munich announced he was leaving.

It also hasn’t escaped decision-makers that bar Mainz, all of Tuchel’s tenures have been only around the two-year mark or under.

The situation at Chelsea sparked United into action. Pochettino’s availability was unexpected and he has long had huge admirers at the club but is also very highly thought of by Brailsford, Sir Jim Ratcliffe – and Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Alex Ferguson refused to say whether Erik ten Hag will remain Manchester United boss next season following speculation he’ll be sacked.

Chelsea’s interest in Kieran McKenna also pushed United to act and meet with his representatives. His strong affinity with and intimate knowledge of the club, aligned with his phenomenal work at Ipswich, marks him as an attractive, albeit risky option. It is understood that he would not have chosen Stamford Bridge over Old Trafford if he had offers from both.

Thomas Frank has also appealed to United for his shapeshifting, building an attacking machine in the Championship to a more defensive-minded, effective unit to consolidate Premier League status, his rapport with supporters, the improvement of players like Ivan Toney, David Raya and Ezri Konsa and outperforming budget and expectations. His direct style of football would suit the squad.

Those are all vastly different managers though?

They are, which makes it hard to nail the profile INEOS are after. And that is not the extent of options being looked at as they properly investigate what and who would be possible.

As was known months ago, the chance of pinching Gareth Southgate from England after the Euros had been explored, and Jean-Claude Blanc’s extensive contact book has been used to gain insights over other candidates.

There has been the expectation that given his availability and Pep Guardiola’s assertion that he is “one of the most influential managers in the last 20 years”, a conversation will be held with Roberto De Zerbi.

I should point out, there are many at United who have worked closely with Ten Hag and want him to continue. They believe he has handled all manner of turbulence since walking through the door quite well and is the least of the club’s problems.

Could the FA Cup final victory save Ten Hag?

United’s hierarchy have been quite insistent that the decision over Ten Hag will be based on the entirety of his time in charge not the result of Saturday’s showpiece.

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Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol says the FA Cup final win will be considered by Sir Jim Ratcliffe but won’t be a deciding factor in the verdict on Erik Ten Hag’s future.

But if it was his last act in charge, it is some way to go?!

Yes, with another piece of silverware – and doing so against all odds to deny Manchester City the double-double.

It wasn’t just about the result, it was a near-perfect performance from United; they were aggressive and dynamic, were exceptional with their defensive organisation and really preyed on City’s weaknesses.

It was a small window into Ten Hag’s vision of turning them into “the best transition team in the world” and also pointed to what the manager had been saying all season: a solid central defensive partnership and having players available for selection would make a significant difference. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez at the heart of defence were the platform United built off on Saturday.

On a human level, the scenes were also brilliant; seeing Ten Hag happy and enjoying himself with a heap of adoration from the likes of Alejandro Garnarcho, Kobbie Mainoo, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Martinez.

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Sky Sports News’ Ben Ransom and Melissa Reddy discuss whether Erik ten Hag will remain as Manchester United manager after his side lifted the FA Cup on Saturday.

What happens next?

The fact that United are engaging with the representatives of other managers speaks louder than anything else. INEOS have shown from all the changes they’ve already made to the football structure that they want a fresh path forward – their own path.

But can they get an agreement with the candidate they really want, will it make financial sense, and would they get buy-in from supporters?

Those are all considerations and if they can’t nail that, perhaps Ten Hag will remain in play. But I’d refer back to the first line of this answer.

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