Manchester United is one of the most prestigious names in the sports world and is a premier destination for footballers and managers alike. But their current manager, Erik ten Hag, is under pressure to turn things around in the red half of Manchester. With talk of a potential takeover of the club, one of the many questions surrounding Manchester United is whether or not Ten Hag will last until a takeover occurs.
A Strong Start With Struggles Since
The beginning of Erik ten Hag’s time at Manchester United was a resounding success, providing hope that the club was in for a return to its glory days. After taking over as manager in May of 2022, Ten Hag’s first season in charge resulted in a third-place finish in the Premier League. That brought about a return to Champions League football and some optimism that a return to the top of the Premier League table could be imminent.
However, if you check out the odds of winning the Premier League this season, you will notice that Ten Hag’s Manchester United is far from being in a position to win the league during his second year in charge. That is because United is positioned firmly in the middle of the table as the Premier League season reaches the quarter-turn. They are also at the bottom of their Champions League group, which could ruin their chances of progression in that competition. With Ten Hag’s team failing to build on last season’s success, there are questions about his job security from supporters and pundits alike.
Of course, the state of the Premier League in general has more to do with Manchester United’s struggles than Ten Hag’s management. Clubs like Manchester City and Newcastle United have received massive infusions of funds from new ownership, while Manchester United’s Glazer family runs the club in a more profit-focused fashion — similarly to how they run the American sports teams they own.
The difference in ownership philosophy between clubs like City and Newcastle casts a harsh light on the Glazers. Ownership is not what gets sacked when a team is underperforming, though, as managers like Ten Hag often bear the brunt of the blame instead. However, could change come to Manchester United from an ownership perspective? And could that change throw Ten Hag a lifeline?
Manchester United Sale Imminent?
Rumours of a takeover of Manchester United have been swirling recently, with the club linked to suitors such as Sheikh Jassim of Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe. Sheikh Jassim was searching for complete control of the club, but those talks stalled out and will not be moving any further. Ratcliffe’s goal is to obtain 25% control of the club, with the question being whether or not those talks will progress any further.
Reports indicate that Ratcliffe and Manchester United are not yet close to striking a deal and that talks will be ongoing between the two parties. The fact that the door has been left open between the two sides is an encouraging sign, as a deal could very well be struck soon to benefit the club. But for a manager in a tenuous position like Ten Hag, ongoing talks of a deal are not helpful to his current situation, as he needs a sale to go through to help his cause.
Will Ten Hag Be Part of Post-Sale Plans?
Whether or not Ten Hag will remain a part of the plans for Manchester United after a potential takeover depends on a couple of factors. The first of those factors is who takes the club over. Ratcliffe has stated that Ten Hag will remain part of the plan for the club if his takeover attempt is successful, though there is no guarantee that this will remain the case after a deal is executed.
That brings us to the second component surrounding whether or not Ten Hag’s status as manager survives a future takeover of the club: the club’s performance under him. Even if potential buyers want Ten Hag to be a part of the club’s future, if the club cannot rise up the table and justify Ten Hag remaining with the club until the sale, those good intentions from those such as Ratcliffe are all for nought.
Looking at the fixture list for United, Ten Hag’s future could go in either direction. United will face relegation candidates like Sheffield United and Luton Town in the near future. But they also face Manchester City and Newcastle United over the next few weeks — where a poor stretch could be harmful or a brilliant stretch could save Ten Hag’s tenure.
Time Could Be Running Out
To summarise the current situation at Manchester United, many moving parts could determine how the Erik ten Hag era progresses over a crucial period in the club’s history. The key factors will be the progression of a potential club takeover, how long that process takes, and whether the club can do enough to win. Whether or not Manchester United can turn things around domestically and in Europe will be just as important as whether or not the club’s ownership situation changes.