The only thing Erik ten Hag DOESN'T have to worry about is his job

CHRIS WHEELER: The only thing Erik ten Hag DOESN’T have to worry about is his job… he still has the support of the Manchester United dressing room and there is patience in the boardroom

  • Man United’s poor start to the season continued with a 3-2 defeat to Galatasaray 
  • Despite this, Erik ten Hag should not be concerned over his role as manager 
  • Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here

The rain was running off Erik ten Hag’s head as he disappeared down the Old Trafford tunnel after another crushing defeat on Tuesday night.

He had the boos from Manchester United fans ringing in his ears, and the whiff of flares in his nostrils as Galatasaray supporters celebrated a famous victory.

When Ten Hag reached the home dressing room, he was greeted by an all-too-familiar sight: dejected United players slumped in their seats after losing for the sixth time in 10 games this season. Another defeat, another inquest. This is United’s worst start to a season since Sir Alex Ferguson replaced Ron Atkinson 37 years ago.

Wherever Ten Hag looks, there seem to be problems: a crippling injury list, players low on confidence and short of their best form, off-the-field distractions and unrest among the fans. It is a dangerous mix for any manager, particularly approaching a two-week international break when clubs so often see an opportunity for change. But just about the only thing Ten Hag does not have to worry about right now, it seems, is his job.

The fact United would not even entertain questions about the Dutchman’s position yesterday tells its own story. To enter into the conversation would only add fuel to the fire, and there are more than enough of those to put out around Old Trafford.

Erik ten Hag should not be fearful of his job, despite Man United’s slow start to the season

The Red Devils suffered a 3-2 defeat against Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday

Your browser does not support iframes.

Of course, just as every player has his price, every manager has his tipping point. For Ferguson’s successor, David Moyes, it was a Champions League defeat away to Olympiakos which in hindsight seems rather tame. For Louis van Gaal, it was the nightmare before Christmas 2015.

Jose Mourinho’s demise was ‘death by a thousand cuts’, according to a senior figure. For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, embarrassing home defeats back-to-back by Liverpool and Manchester City meant it was only a matter of time before he was history. Which begs the question, what would be Ten Hag’s tipping point? How low would he have to go to force United’s hand? The talk yesterday was bullish: of beating Brentford on Saturday and then having a reset during the international break. Crucially, he still has the support of the dressing room, where players believe Ten Hag’s powerbase is undiminished and he will turn this around.

Sources insist that the season has not been written off, with three-quarters of the campaign to go and four trophies to play for — even though the top four is the realistic target after United’s worst start in the Premier League era, and the Champions League looks beyond them after defeats in their opening two group games for the first time.

Ten Hag has credit in the bank after his team finished third last season and lifted the Carabao Cup. ‘They haven’t become bad overnight,’ said one insider yesterday.

The club also respect the fact he has not gone looking for excuses even though 16 players have been ruled out at various times through injury since pre-season. The loss has been most acutely felt in defence with Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka long-term absentees.

New signings Mason Mount, Rasmus Hojlund, Sofyan Amrabat and Sergio Reguilon also had injury problems soon after arriving in the summer. And then there is Antony and Jadon Sancho. Antony returned to action for the first time in a month as a late substitute against Galatasaray after a leave of absence to fight allegations of domestic abuse, which he denies. The problem has not gone away yet, though, and his former girlfriend Gabriela Cavallin is due to speak to Greater Manchester Police on Thursday.

Sancho, meanwhile, continues to train in exile while he refuses to apologise over his public spat with the manager. The support is there for Ten Hag and there is optimism that the consistency will come and the costly individual errors by players will stop.

None of which exonerates Ten Hag from blame or excuses the dreadful start to the season, but it does go some way to explaining why there is patience in the boardroom.

Luke Shaw (L) and Lisandro Martinez (R) are among United’s long-term absentees with injury

Jadon Sancho continues to train in exile after his public falling out with manager ten Hag

United have backed Ten Hag to the tune of £400million in the transfer market since he arrived last year. Many, if not all, of the signings were handpicked by him: players he worked with at Ajax such as Martinez, Antony and goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Getting rid of Ten Hag would amount to a humiliating admission of failure and require a new direction of travel. There are only so many times you can go back to the drawing board.

So, to Brentford. Thomas Frank’s side plunged Ten Hag into early-season crisis last campaign when he lost his second game in charge 4-0 before steadying the ship.

This storm is taking a little longer to weather. It would be a bad time for lightning to strike twice.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

Your browser does not support iframes.

Source: Read Full Article