Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United reign nears end

Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton has delivered a damning assessment of Erik ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United manager, suggesting that it’s rapidly approaching its conclusion with no hope of redemption. This sentiment arises in the wake of United’s rollercoaster FA Cup semifinal clash against Championship side Coventry City, where they squandered a commanding 3-0 lead, eventually prevailing on penalties.

Sutton’s analysis, aired on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club, underscores the deep-seated issues plaguing United under Ten Hag’s stewardship. The team’s inconsistency, epitomized by their inability to maintain control despite a comfortable advantage, is emblematic of their broader struggles throughout the season. Former Newcastle and Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given echoed Sutton’s sentiments, noting Ten Hag’s perceived bewilderment on the touchline amidst the growing unrest within the club.

The match against Coventry saw United initially dominate proceedings, courtesy of goals from Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire, and Bruno Fernandes. However, their subsequent collapse mirrored their season-long pattern of faltering under pressure. Sutton, drawing on his experience winning the Premier League with Blackburn in 1995, highlighted the recurring theme of losing control, a narrative that has plagued United’s campaign.

Ten Hag, who clinched the Carabao Cup in his debut season, conceded that his team “got away with one” against Coventry. Despite the victory, he acknowledged the need for improvement, emphasizing the team’s erratic performance levels. With the FA Cup final against Manchester City looming, opinions on Ten Hag’s future within the club diverge. While Danny Murphy downplays the significance of winning the trophy as a determinant of Ten Hag’s fate, Gary Neville emphasizes its potential impact, citing the precedent of previous managerial tenures.

Behind the scenes, significant changes orchestrated by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford have reshaped United’s backroom team, adding further pressure on Ten Hag. The recent appointment of Jason Wilcox as technical director, following his departure from Southampton, underscores the club’s commitment to restructuring. However, negotiations to secure the services of Dan Ashworth as sporting director remain unresolved, potentially prolonging the uncertainty surrounding the club’s leadership.

Despite mounting criticism, some supporters draw parallels between Ten Hag’s situation and Mikel Arteta’s early struggles at Arsenal. Arteta, despite facing challenges in his initial seasons, eventually guided Arsenal to FA Cup success. This comparison, coupled with statistical analyses indicating similarities in win percentages between the two managers, fuels optimism among Ten Hag’s proponents. However, amidst the tumultuous atmosphere surrounding United, the pressure continues to mount on Ten Hag as he navigates a crucial juncture in his managerial career.