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Man Utd players thought Erik ten Hag would be sacked

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag/Erik ten Hag masterminded an excellent FA Cup final win over rivals City
Erik ten Hag masterminded an excellent FA Cup final win over rivals City - PA/Nick Potts

Shocked Manchester United players thought Erik ten Hag would be sacked before finding out the Dutchman was staying at the club.

Telegraph Sport understands United players found out the club had decided to keep Ten Hag only when news broke publicly late on Tuesday night.

Players last week thought Ten Hag would leave and still believed that was the most likely scenario after United completed their end-of-season review.

Most of United’s players are with their respective international camps, which meant they were not privy to inside information and were largely kept out of the loop.

One source told Telegraph Sport: “The overriding reaction to the news among the players seems to have been surprise. They didn’t really have a clue about what was going on.”

United spoke to a number of managers before deciding to keep Ten Hag, which contributed to the belief among players that his days were numbered.

Most of the players are said to be pleased the uncertainty over United’s managerial situation has been ended and that the club can move on with their summer plans.

Ten Hag’s communication with his squad is said to have caused issues, with some sources believing he has been lacking in motivational skills and empathy. But there is also a recognition that he worked through an injury crisis and masterminded an excellent FA Cup final win over Manchester City.

Insiders have been impressed with the way in which Ten Hag coped with the uncertainty over his future and his manner in talks over him staying. United have faced criticism over the past week for the length of the review and the way in which it was conducted.

But there is confidence within the club that the best solution has been reached and that the process of keeping Ten Hag will quickly be forgotten if it proves to be the right decision.

Sources have also dismissed theories that United have simply delayed Ten Hag’s departure while they wait for a preferred successor, such as England manager Gareth Southgate, to become available.

As a result of their talks with Ten Hag over his future and the decision for him to remain as manager, the club and the Dutchman have started negotiations over a contract extension.