Kobbie Mainoo: I am happy Manchester United did not sack Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag (L) Kobbie Mainoo (R) – Kobbie Mainoo: I am happy Manchester United didn't sack Erik ten Hag

Kobbie Mainoo has expressed his relief at going into Euro 2024 without the cloud of Erik ten Hag’s future hanging over him.

Mainoo played a huge role in Ten Hag keeping his job at Manchester United after scoring the winner in the FA Cup final, with the club’s INEOS owners reviewing the Dutchman’s position and deciding last week to retain him.

It meant Mainoo will continue working with the manager who gave him his senior debut, then put him in the first team last season which led to his England call-up for the Euros. The 19-year-old believes he can win more trophies with Ten Hag after last month’s triumph at Wembley.

“I am obviously happy to keep building with him, he has won two trophies and there are more to come. It is nice to have the peace of mind that we know what manager we are going back to for pre-season,” said Mainoo.

“I am so grateful for him that he put his trust in me and believed in me to play in the team. I can’t thank him enough.”

Mainoo started the season recovering from ankle surgery, having been earmarked as a first-team player by Ten Hag but picking up his injury in the summer during a friendly against Real Madrid when Rodrygo fell on him.

But he stayed in the team after making his comeback in November and was quickly in the frame for England. Now he could face United team-mates Rasmus Hojlund and Christian Eriksen when Gareth Southgate’s team face Denmark in Frankfurt on Thursday.

‘I’ve learned a lot from Denmark’s Eriksen’

“Me and Rasmus are quite young, so we are close in the team,” Mainoo said. “I am always around him. I haven’t spoken to him recently, but I will probably leave that for after the game. I am focused on what is going on here and maybe after the game I’ll speak to him.

“Christian, I have learnt a lot from him, watching him last season, and trying to pick up things from his game as well. And then obviously the great journey he has been on since the last Euros has been amazing. Being able to be so close around him, he is such a good player.

“They are both great team-mates. But if I am to play on Thursday I’ll put that to the side, compete against them and hopefully get the win.”

Mainoo came off the bench in the opening Group C win over Serbia as England saw out their 1-0 victory. As a midfielder, he has looked comfortable pushing forward or sitting to defend, with his attacking instincts coming from playing as a striker in youth football.

“Growing up, I always looked at attackers because I was a striker for most of my academy days. I love being on the ball and playing futsal, I was always comfortable playing in tight areas and like to turn with the ball,” he said.

“It was more because I was getting a bit frustrated playing striker. I wasn’t getting the ball a lot and I love time with the ball so it was more natural to move back, play 10 a bit, then I played on the wing and then more recently played centre midfield.”

Mainoo qualified to play for Ghana through his parents but has chosen England. “It was considered, but I wanted to play for England,” he said. “I am proud of my Ghanaian heritage and there was speculation, but, yeah, it has always been a dream to play for England.I am happy to be here.”

And his case to start matches at the Euros has been championed by Wayne Rooney, who he used to idolise as a boy.

“I always appreciate good words from a legend of football and a club that I play for – it is always amazing to receive that,” he said.

“Obviously, growing up a United fan, Rooney – it wasn’t so much just strikers, as well Ronaldinho I used to watch him on YouTube but it is mostly United players.”