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Ten Hag's wait for Man Utd decision enters third week

Erik ten Hag

It is more than two weeks since Erik ten Hag's Manchester United beat Manchester City in an FA Cup final billed as potentially his last game.

United chiefs launched a review into the club’s season following that surprise win over rivals City, yet there is still no decision about the Dutchman's future.

The build-up to the game was dominated by talk of manager Ten Hag’s chances of keeping his job.

Some went so far as to state that Ten Hag would be sacked no matter what the outcome at Wembley, saying the Dutchman would pay the price for a terrible season in which United finished eighth - their worst performance since the 1989-90 campaign when Sir Alex Ferguson came close to losing his job.

Ten Hag stood his ground and in an interview in the Netherlands said he had been told new co-owners Ineos wanted to rebuild the club "with me".

It turned out that assessment was a bit of a stretch.

Ten Hag was reflecting his impression of a number of previous conversations with Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Sir Dave Brailsford and Jason Wilcox, the Ineos team initially responsible for running the football side at Old Trafford following the change of ownership.

In reality, United were committed to a full review at the end of the season, with the manager’s future seen as part of that.

Erik ten Hag is the first Manchester United manager to win a trophy in successive seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson
Erik ten Hag being congratulated by Sir Jim Ratcliffe after the FA Cup final [Getty Images]

It is fair to say most members of the media and many fans thought the review would have been completed by now and Ten Hag would know his fate.

But in beating City - and ensuring European qualification they had looked set to miss out on - the 54-year-old became the first United boss to win trophies in successive seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson.

That allowed him to issue a blunt warning to his employers: “When I started here I said I am here to win and also that I want to build a team. I am doing both. But if they don’t want me any more I will go and win and games and trophies somewhere else.”

Ten Hag headed off on holiday and United’s hierarchy began their end-of-season review, stressing no decision around the manager would be taken until it was complete.

Within a couple of days it became apparent that anyone who thought the review would just be a speedy resume of the season or a box ticking exercise to put an appropriate gap between Ten Hag’s triumph and a dismissal were wrong.

United sources were adamant they had not set a timeline on the review. Assumptions of a resolution by the end of last week were also incorrect and, as we move into a third week, still there has been no suggestion an announcement is pending.

In the meantime, Ten Hag can only wait.

When he was linked with now filled vacancies at former clubs Ajax and Bayern Munich in the spring, it was underlined his only interest was managing United, where he still has a year left on his contract.

Various names have been touted as his successor, including Kieran McKenna, who has since signed an extension to his contract at Ipswich, Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and Thomas Frank.

This weekend, it was reported, including by BBC Sport, that Thomas Tuchel no longer wishes to be considered for a vacancy that presently does not exist, having met Ratcliffe in Monaco in the last week. United have not confirmed the meeting, nor expressed a view on the optics around such a chat.

In addition, interest in Mauricio Pochettino, who was in the frame for the United job when Ten Hag was appointed and is out of work after his exit from Chelsea, has also cooled.

With all their players either on international duty or their summer break, United have no urgent need to make a final decision.

Brighton, for example, are viewed as a model club when it comes to forward planning but Roberto De Zerbi announced he was quitting on 18 May, a week before the FA Cup final, and they have still not named a replacement.

But all eyes are on Old Trafford and it seems no-one, including Ten Hag, can be sure what the eventual outcome will be.