Ratcliffe stance on Ten Hag speaks volumes with Man Utd season on brink

Ten Hag details meeting with Ratcliffe amid Man Utd bid

In another world, Erik ten Hag would potentially be facing a potential sacking at Manchester United. With the Red Devils not a certainty to be playing in the Champions League next season, with four Premier League games left, failing on that front would be catastrophic. But it speaks volumes that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is now the frontrunner to seize power at Old Trafford, is backing the current Red Devils manager for the long run.

When Manchester United beat Aston Villa 1-0 at the start of the month following a strike from Bruno Fernandes, Champions League football next season seemed a formality.

However, successive defeats to Brighton and West Ham have dented their hopes of returning to European football’s top-tier competition. With Liverpool breathing down their necks, the pressure is well and truly on.

Ten Hag has, obviously, punched well over the odds in his first season in charge.

Yes, there have been some shocking days. The defeats to Brighton and West Ham recently, the 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool, the humiliating loss to Brentford and their 3-0 Europa League loss to Sevilla last month all stand out.

But Ten Hag inherited a club in crisis and has brought them together as one, which bodes well for the future.

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While that’s the case, however, there’s no escaping the fact that in previous years, perhaps the 53-year-old’s job at Old Trafford wouldn’t be so safe.

United were considering axing Jose Mourinho after just a year in 2017, only for success in the Europa League to grant the Portuguese more time.

Before him, both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal had paid the price for missing out on the biggest stage of all in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

And United opted to relieve Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of his duties last season when it looked like Champions League football was starting to slip away.

With Ten Hag it’s a different story, however.

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It’s already been reported that Ratcliffe, who is now the frontrunner in the takeover process, is determined to keep the Dutchman in place.

It shows that Ten Hag is different to his predecessors, at least in the eyes of those around the club. For the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, they have somebody they perceive to be elite in the dugout.

Now, the onus is on the Dutchman to show why the Red Devils chose him back in the summer.

United have already won one trophy under Ten Hag, quicker than any other manager post-Ferguson since Mourinho. That was achieved in February, with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final.

They could win another, with Manchester City lying in wait in the FA Cup final on June 3.

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But finishing in the top four and securing a return to next season’s Champions League, as well as claiming another piece of silverware, would make it a campaign to remember.

Ratcliffe will want to give Ten Hag everything possible in order to achieve success in the coming years if, as expected, he assumes power at Old Trafford.

They’ll want to bring the very best to the club in order to ensure the glory days return.

And in the eyes of the INEOS chief, regardless of what happens between now and the summer, there’s nobody better to lead the team.

What’s happening with a takeover?

Earlier in the week, reports said Ratcliffe was the Glazers’ preferred bidder.

That’s despite interest from Sheikh Jassim, who wants to purchase 100 per cent of the club rather than just the family’s shares of 69 per cent.

Then, on Thursday night, it emerged a delay was potentially on the cards.

The Raine Group, who have been overseeing the process, are yet to get back to interested candidates with the Glazers’ preferred candidate.

With uncertainty surrounding the club, it’s unclear how much Ten Hag will have to spend at the end of the season.

United want Harry Kane, with the Tottenham striker their No 9 transfer target as the summer rapidly approaches.

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