The INEOS sporting team consider Erik ten Hag’s job “secure” for the foreseeable future as they will focus their early attention on the structure and processes in place at Old Trafford.
Jamie Jackson (The Guardian) reveals Sir Jim Ratcliffe “plans to stand by” the Dutch manager, with only a “run of particularly dire results” thought to be enough to change this decision; as it would with any manager.
Ratcliffe plans to stand by Ten Hag as he starts Manchester United deep dive https://t.co/kjgdF98G15
— jamie jackson (@JamieJackson___) January 5, 2024
Jackson writes: “Ratcliffe and Brailsford are first intent on analysing the makeup of the playing squad, executive and staff, the club’s structure and how revenue is invested in the team to understand the best way to achieve their ambition of making United domestic and continental challengers again.”
It is only after this “deep dive” has been completed that a decision will be made on Ten Hag’s long-term future.
Ratcliffe and Brailsford met with the Dutchman this week for the first time with Ten Hag describing the meeting as “very positive.”
“So many hours we sit together. On many issues, we were on the same page. I can say that it was a very constructive meeting and we’re looking forward to working with each other,” Ten Hag revealed in a press conference yesterday.
The INEOS sporting team are thought to have made a new Sporting Director, as well as Head of Recruitment, two early priorities to lead their revolution at Old Trafford. Dan Ashworth is linked to the former and Paul Mitchell for the latter.
Jean-Claude Blanc, the Chief Executive of INEOS Sport, is expected to take on the same role at United, replacing the recently departed Richard Arnold.
While the early noises emanating from the INEOS camp are supportive of Ten Hag – they are believed to be appreciative of just how difficult an issue injuries have been this season – they are not a conclusive seal of approval.
If United’s new ownership structure wanted to appoint a new manager, it would be foolhardy to do so immediately. They are still getting to grips with the true extent of the rot at Old Trafford (both physically and metaphorically) and are hesitant to rush into any definitive decisions prior to this.
Similarly, the team is low on confidence and still awaiting the full return of a number of key players from injury. It is unlikely a new manager would do much better with the current players at Ten Hag’s disposal than he is.
A mid-season appointment is also sub-optimal for a new manager as they are deprived of a full pre-season in which to begin instilling their philosophy into their new squad. Instead, with the demands of weekly games, they are reactively managing, as much as proactively coaching.
If INEOS wanted to replace Ten Hag with their own choice, it would still be prudent to allow the Dutchman to continue until the end of the season. A change could then be made at a more productive point in the footballing calendar.
This season has been a profoundly disappointing one for United fans so far. If Ten Hag was to be relieved of his duties at the end of the year, the negative memories of it would largely disappear with him; and a new coach would arrive fresh, free from the ills of his predecessor.
The fact Ten Hag retains the backing of INEOS in the short-term is, therefore, not as clear a signal of their long-term plan as it may seem upon a cursory glance. He could very well be their leader for the future or, equally, a sacrificial lamb for the next manager.