Have Man United sacked Erik ten Hag? Latest reports of FA Cup final axe that echo Van Gaal’s Old Trafford exit

Manchester United’s preparations for the FA Cup final against Manchester City were thrown into chaos by a report that states Erik ten Hag will be sacked as manager after the game.

Ten Hag’s future at Old Trafford has been a source of sustained speculation at Old Trafford, especially since Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS group took control of football operations earlier this year.

The cup final against Premier League champions City, who are going for the unprecedented feat of back-to-back domestic doubles, gives United a chance to salvage a campaign where they finished eighth — their worst final league position since 1990. If they don’t lift the FA Cup, United will finish the campaign trophyless and miss out on European qualification.

But it appears even an upset victory over Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side will not be enough to spare Ten Hag, with Ratcliffe and his newly installed hierarchy set on a fresh direction.

According to The Guardian, “a well-placed source” at Old Trafford confirmed Ten Hag would be moved along irrespective of Saturday’s outcome at Wembley. United declined to comment on the record after being contacted by the UK newspaper.

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Have Man United sacked Erik ten Hag? Latest reports

Ten Hag remained in the United job for the FA Cup final on May 25 against Manchester City at Wembley.

When asked about the speculation, the Red Devils manager said he was unaware of any suggestion his exit had been decided, although he stressed the day was about his players winning the trophy, not his own future.

“I don’t talk about my future. It’s not about me, it’s about the team and winning the cup,” he told BBC Sport before the match.

Who will replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United?

The Guardian article also identified a shortlist of six potential candidates to succeed Ten Hag, most notably Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino.

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Tuchel left Bayern Munich this season after ceding the Bundesliga title to Bayer Leverkusen. An attempt by the Bayern board to reverse their decision did not persuade Tuchel into a U-turn and the Champions League-winning former Chelsea manager is understood to be keen on another shot at Premier League management.

Pochettino followed Tuchel in becoming another victim of the Todd Boehly regime at Stamford Bridge and was briefly linked with the Bayern post before Burnley manager Vincent Kompany emerged as a surprise frontrunner.

Thomas Tuchel Bayern Munich 09212023

Getty Images

Talk of Pochettino around United has happened frequently since he first came to prominence at Tottenham Hotspur and the stars might align this time for the ex-PSG boss.

None of the other names mentioned have the same level of top-tier achievement, but Kieran McKenna knows United well having served as one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assistants.

Since taking charge at Ipswich Town in December 2021, the 38-year-old has been a revelation. This season he led the Suffolk club back to the Premier League via a second consecutive promotion.

McKenna’s exploits have not gone unnoticed he has also been linked to the vacancies at Chelsea and Brighton. Former Seagulls’ boss Graham Potter has not worked since being sacked by Chelsea last season but INEOS’ admiration for the 49-year-old has been long-noted.

Thomas Frank has impressed by making a well-coached Brentford team punch above their weight since gaining promotion in 2021 and he has now also been thrust into the United conversation.

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Erik ten Hag record as Man United manager

If this is it for Ten Hag, it brings to an end another familiar cycle of expectation, optimism and ultimately failure at United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

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David Moyes was relieved of his duties before the end of the first season of a six-year contract. But United at least finished seventh in 2013/14, one place better off than Ten Hag’s injury-hit assortment this year.

By the time Moyes’ contract was due to end in June 2019, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho had already come and gone and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was making a better fist of things than those two illustrious predecessors.

After finishing a distant second to Manchester City in 2020/21, United spent big to bring in Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho before the prodigal son Cristiano Ronaldo returned home. However, this came at the expense of the squad harmony and cohesion Solskjaer had built and he was sacked after a November 2022 thumping at Watford.

Manchester United managers since Sir Alex Ferguson

  Played Won Drawn Lost Win % Honours won
David Moyes 51 27 9 15 52.9% Community Shield
Louis van Gaal 103 54 25 24 52.4% FA Cup
Jose Mourinho 144 84 32 28 58.3% Europa League, League Cup, Community Shield
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 168 91 37 40 54.2%
Ralf Rangnick 29 11 10 8 37.9%
Erik ten Hag 113 65 15 31 57.5% League Cup

Ralf Rangnick’s interim tenure was notable for the veteran German coach speaking loudly about all of United’s problems without having to ever concern himself with the arduous task of solving them — certainly after that proposed consultancy role was kicked into the long grass.

To that end, Ten Hag appeared to have a handle on things last season. A swift divorce was granted to Ronaldo, the Red Devils won the Carabao Cup and finished third to qualify for the Champions League. It makes this season’s collapse and another managerial failure perhaps the toughest to swallow of them all in the 11 years since Ferguson left the scene.

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What happened to Louis van Gaal at the FA Cup final?

The most obvious parallels to draw with Ten Hag are to Van Gaal and that is not simply because of their shared nationality and Ajax heritage.

Heading into the 2016 FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, speculation was mounting that former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Van Gaal would be moved on to make way for Mourinho.

So it proved, even after United overcame Palace and their snake-hipped manager Alan Pardew in extra time thanks to a superb Jesse Lingard strike.

“The last six months at United, the circumstances were so difficult,” Van Gaal said reflecting on his Old Trafford demise. “That is why the trophy I won, the FA Cup, I consider the biggest trophy in my career.”

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United fans can at least hope for the same outcome on Saturday but City are also familiar with this situation heading into an FA Cup final.

Less than a year after helming an incredible Premier League title triumph at United’s expense, the popular but temperamental City manager Roberto Mancini was rumoured to be teetering on the brink.

United had won back the Premier League in Ferguson’s final season and on the morning of City’s showpiece meeting with Wigan Athletic, multiple reports claimed Manuel Pellegrini was set to usurp the Italian.

Again, this turned out to be true but there was no siege mentality from City as they performed limply and Ben Watson headed a late winner to give the Latics a famous triumph.


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