Manchester United set to sack Erik ten Hag after FA Cup final

Move is most significant made by Jim Ratcliffe and his allies

Manchester United have decided to sack Erik Ten Hag after the FA Cup final against Manchester City.

In an echo of United parting company with Louis van Gaal despite winning the FA Cup in 2016, it is understood that even beating City at Wembley on Saturday will not save Ten Hag.

The ruthless decision to change manager will be the most significant move made by Jim Ratcliffe and his allies since Ineos agreed to take a minority stake in the club last December and assumed control of football operations. United, who appointed Ten Hag two years ago, have felt compelled to act after ending a fraught campaign eighth in the Premier League, their lowest league finish since 1990.

The team’s struggles this season have caused faith in Ten Hag to dwindle. United will have a last shot of qualifying for Europe when they face City – causing an upset against the champions would earn a place in the Europa League – but the hierarchy do not want to make a decision based on one game.


The challenge for Ten Hag, who has said he has already met with Ratcliffe and the minority owner’s advisers, will be ensuring that his players are not distracted by the noise around his position. For United, the focus will soon switch to picking a replacement for the former Ajax manager. They are considering Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino, Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna, England’s Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and Brentford’s Thomas Frank.

The person who takes over will need to work in the new structure United are implementing. Ratcliffe’s close advisers include Dave Brailsford, the acting chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc and the technical director Jason Wilcox. Omar Berrada is due to take over as chief executive, Dan Ashworth as sporting director.

Tuchel is regarded as the front-runner but it is understood United have held exploratory talks with Pochettino. They have also spoken to representatives of McKenna, who has been targeted by Chelsea and Brighton.

Ten Hag has cut an embattled figure since the start of the season. There have been questions over the quality of his coaching, his tactics have been criticised and many of his signings have not worked out. Anthony, the £86 million winger, has been a huge disappointment since arriving from Ajax two years ago and Rasmus Højlund, the Denmark striker, has had a difficult season.

André Onana, the goalkeeper, has been erratic since joining from Inter last season and Casemiro, the Brazil midfielder, has struggled this season to keep up with the pace of English football. Injuries have meant that Mason Mount has barely featured since joining from Chelsea.

Ten Hag can point to the unavailability of many important players as a key factor in his inability to make his tactics work. Luke Shaw has missed most of the season at left-back and Harry Maguire has also been ruled out of the final. United have been forced to use Casemiro in central defence in recent weeks.

There have been many indignities this season. United finished bottom of their Champions League group, lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth and were thrashed 4-0 by Crystal Palace this month. The Cup, though, has brought some respite. United showed their quality with a 4-3 win over Liverpool in the quarter-finals, although they followed that by blowing a 3-0 lead against Coventry City before eventually beating the Championship team on penalties. – Guardian