Erik ten Hag aims dig at Gareth Southgate’s ‘vision’ after England win over Serbia

Erik ten Hag aims dig at Gareth Southgate's 'vision' after England win over Serbia

Erik ten Hag aimed a minor dig at Gareth Southgate’s “vision” as he said England were left “relying on moments” in their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia.

The Manchester United manager was appearing as a pundit on Dutch television for the game just a week after being told his Old Trafford job was safe. United opted to keep faith with Ten Hag after a post-season review, but Southgate is known to have been admired within Ineos. However, in his post-match analysis of England’s 1-0 win in Germany, Ten Hag suggested to Dutch TV station NOS that he is not such a fan of Southgate’s cautious tactical approach.

“It’s the vision of the manager [Southgate],” said Ten Hag, after England’s form dipped in the second half after impressing in the opening 45 minutes. “England will take a 1-0 lead, then he [Southgate] decides to start gambling with making his team compact and relying on moments for the remaining minutes of the game.”

United opted to keep faith with Ten Hag after speaking with half a dozen other managers about potentially replacing the Dutchman.

Earlier, in NOS’s match coverage, Ten Hag confirmed United spoke to Thomas Tuchel but “eventually came to the conclusion that they already have the best manager”.

Telegraph Sport detailed last week how Ten Hag is likely to be offered a two-year contract extension after it was finally confirmed he is staying at Old Trafford.

But Ten Hag revealed there are no guarantees he will agree a new contract after admitting talks are unlikely to prove straightforward. Old Trafford officials eventually flew to Ibiza, where Ten Hag has been on holiday, to hold talks with the manager following a two-and-a-half-week review and are now looking to extend his contract, which expires at the end of next season.

But Ten Hag – who insisted United’s discussions with other managers would not have been permitted in Holland – says a new deal is not a given.

“Manchester United and I still have to find an agreement for the new contract,” said Ten Hag. “This isn’t easily done, we are still going to have to talk about this.”

Ten Hag wants Ineos to demonstrate a long-term commitment to him and is expecting a two-year extension to his current contract. But there are other potential hurdles to navigate, not least around his influence over transfers, the team’s playing and the make-up of his coaching staff, that could require compromises on both sides before an agreement is reached. It also remains to be seen if United’s new hierarchy seek to make Ten Hag “head coach” as opposed to his current title of manager, another possible obstacle.

United spoke to at least six managers before deciding to stick with Ten Hag, including Tuchel, Roberto De Zerbi, Thomas Frank, Kieran McKenna, Mauricio Pochettino and Marco Silva. They had resolved by mid-May to sack Ten Hag only to row back from that and ultimately determined that a change came attached with more risk. United finished eighth last season, their lowest league finish for 34 years, but ended the campaign on a high with victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup final, Ten Hag’s second trophy in as many seasons at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag doubted United’s talks with prospective replacements would have been allowed in his own country.

“Here in Holland this is ‘not done’, in fact, it’s not even allowed here,” he said. “But in England, they have different rules and laws. Ineos took their time. They are new in football, it’s normal to reflect on the season. It’s no secret that they talked with multiple candidates.

“Manchester United have told me that they spoke with Tuchel, but they eventually came to the conclusion that they already have the best manager.”

Meanwhile, Ten Hag revealed that he expects Luke Shaw to be available for England after the group stages should Southgate’s side progress that far. The United left-back has been in a race to prove his fitness after injury.

“Luke Shaw will start playing once England get out of the group stages,” Ten Hag said.

He also suggested United forward Marcus Rashford and City’s Jack Grealish paid the price for their poor club form by being omitted by Southgate.

“Grealish and Rashford were both lacking this season,” he said. “And when you are lacking, you risk not getting picked for your country.”