Premier League English

Pep Guardiola praises ‘extraordinary’ Erik ten Hag as Man United call made

Manchester United have apparently decided to keep Erik ten Hag as their manager going into the 2024/25 season for the present after a protracted end-of-season review was conducted by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS board and new United top brass.

As endorsement, Pep Guardiola had already given his verdict on whether he believes Erik ten Hag should stay at the Old Trafford club after they finally decided to keep the Dutchman as manager, as it had been rumored earlier United had contemplated sacking Ten Hag despite their shock victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

The report had allegedly emerged over the weekend that Sir Jim Ratcliffe had met with Thomas Tuchel in Monaco over the latter’s earlier interest in taking the job, while Gareth Southgate and Graham Potter had also popped up as being among the other options.

Now it appears United have finally decided to stick with Ten Hag for the 2324/25 season after  an end-of-season review culminated in the 54-year-old maintaining his position as the gaffer at Old Trafford, and the club are now on the verge of offering the Dutchman  a contract extension. His current deal is set to expire in June 2025.

After the FA Cup final, Guardiola was asked about Ten Hag and his position, with the City boss praising his United counterpart as ‘extraordinary’. He said: “They have to take a decision. He’s a lovely person and an extraordinary manager. Winning the FA Cup is important for them like last season it was for us.”

There had earlier been an ominous lack of clarity on Ten Hag, which had subsequently led to uncertainty over the former Ajax boss’ situation in the past couple of weeks as United supposedly conducted a thorough review of the past campaign which saw them slump to their lowest-ever Premier League finish – eighth place – and also their worst in the top-flight since 1990. Coupled with that, United also lost 14 league matches – their most in the Premier League era since the division was rebranded in 1992.

It was also not totally unexpected that the Old Trafford new football management had finally decided to keep the Dutchman – after having kept the issue close to their chest while they scoured the market for the candidate with the right credentials to replace him – as a list of options ranging from Thomas Tuchel, Roberto de Zerbi, Graham Potter, Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Frank, among others, were eventually whittled out one by one for various reasons.

It has to be said that despite having been able to save his skin and keep his job at Old Trafford, the embarrassingly long period of silence over the Dutchman’s situation – especially with confirmed news swirling all over that the INEOS board and new United top brass had actually conducted meetings with various potential candidates to ideal replacements for Ten Hag – leaves an undesirable odor lingering in the air which hopefully would not negatively impact the former Ajax boss’ confidence going forward into the next campaign. It is certainly not a nice feeling to have knowing that the protracted silence could well have undermined his authority, besides implying that he is not the ideal, preferred person to take the squad forward and is probably only an insurance option at best for the time-being.

With Ten Hag now staying at United, he finally looks set to receive the backing of Ineos and Ratcliffe in the summer transfer window. The Reds have been linked with a number of players, including several strikers as they look to take things up a clear notch after a mixed campaign at best.