Erik ten Hag frustrated over Manchester United review delay as indecision hits transfer plans

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag - Erik ten Hag frustrated with speed of Man Utd review process

Erik ten Hag is growing increasingly frustrated with the delay over deciding his future at Manchester United with the manager fearing it is affecting the club’s transfer plans.

Ten Hag is concerned that if United intend to keep him then the club is already in danger of falling behind in this summer’s market and this will affect their prospects next season.

Ten Hag has been on holiday, taken immediately after the FA Cup final win against Manchester City, and is still waiting to hear whether he will carry on as manager.

The Dutchman is aware that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, who are now running the club, have been talking to other managers and their representatives while a season-long review is conducted.

Telegraph Sport reported on Sunday that Thomas Tuchel is out of the running, having decided to take a break from football after leaving Bayern Munich, despite holding at least one meeting with Ratcliffe. The pair met in Monaco last week after which it was decided they would not progress.

Telegraph Sport also reported that Mauricio Pochettino is unlikely to take over. The former Chelsea head coach was understood to be keen on the job, which he has long coveted, but talks have not progressed.

Kieran McKenna was also on United’s shortlist but has since signed a new contract at newly promoted Ipswich Town. There have also been talks over Brentford manager Thomas Frank while Roberto De Zerbi, who left Brighton at the end of the season, has been under consideration. There has been no official approach to Brentford so far.

Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of World XI acknowledges the fans prior to Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2024 at Stamford Bridge on June 09, 2024 in London, England
Mauricio Pochettino appears to be out of the race to take over at Old Trafford - Getty Images/Henry Browne

There may be other candidates but it is becoming increasingly clear there is no outstanding first-choice should United decide to sack Ten Hag who has a year left on his current contract.

It is known that Ineos admire England manager Gareth Southgate but there is no chance that he will decide his future until the European Championship is over. Even then Southgate will be acutely aware, should he step down, that he does not want to be accused of thinking about what happens next while he is with England and is unlikely to rush into a club job. His contract with the Football Association runs until Dec 31.

The expectation remains that a decision will be taken on Ten Hag this week but, in the meantime, United are running the risk of losing precious time with their transfer plans.

Meetings were held with Ten Hag before he went on holiday over potential signings and sales – with a large number of players available for transfer – but it is understood no clear plan of action was decided.

Sources have also suggested there may be limited funds available for summer transfers given the club has overspent in the past few seasons and needs to address its finances.

Given one of Ten Hag’s frustrations with the club, under previous football director John Murtough and when the Glazer family were running it, was how slow they were in the transfer market then it appears they are potentially falling into the same trap again.

It was argued this was partly why United ended up paying significantly inflated prices for players such as Antony from Ajax who cost an astonishing £86 million and has been a failure despite Ten Hag pushing for him.

First-choice targets are yet to be decided, it appears, with centre-half, for example, a priority. There had been an expectation that Ten Hag’s future would be sorted quickly after the end of the campaign. But, to his disappointment, that has simply not happened.

The priorities for Ratcliffe and his team, beyond the manager’s future, appear to be to upgrade United’s training ground and getting the best out of the existing under-performing squad.

United are due back for pre-season training at the start of July with the club’s first pre-season friendly against Rosenborg in Trondheim, Norway, on July 15 before a tour to the United States.

New chief executive Omar Berrada will arrive that month from Manchester City but the start date for sporting director Dan Ashworth is still to be agreed. Technical director Jason Wilcox is in place and, with Ineos sporting director Sir Dave Brailsford, he has been conducting the review into the season and Ten Hag’s performance.

Jason Wilcox, Technical Director of Manchester United arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford on April 24, 2024 in Manchester, England
Technical director Jason Wilcox is one of the new hires at Manchester United - Getty Images/Matt McNulty

The manager has strongly argued that he deserves the chance to carry on, despite finishing eighth in the Premier League, partly because he has worked at United without a proper infrastructure and support that is only now being put in place.

After winning the FA Cup, to add to the League Cup and qualifying for the Champions League in his first season, Ten Hag talked about how the club “was a mess” when he took over. He therefore believes he has earned the right to start next season with proper backing and, interestingly, there appears to a groundswell of support for him among United fans which may prove decisive.

There is also a great deal of sympathy for Ten Hag that he should not be left waiting in this manner. Even so it remains his hope that he continues at United and, despite talks being held with other managers, he does not believe this has fatally undermined him. He just wants to have the support he believes he deserves to carry on and see whether, with the new powerbrokers, he can restore United’s fortunes having qualified for the Europa League – believing European qualification was a minimum requirement for him to continue – with the impressive FA Cup win.