Manchester United have betrayed me I’m finished – ERIC TEN HAG cried out this morning

Manchester United have betrayed me I’m finished – ERIC TEN HAG cried out this morning






How ‘toxic’ Man Utd hit record low… and why $2.5bn shake-up could change everything


Klopp perplexed by Man United’s form | 00:54

Zac Rayson

Zac Rayson from Fox Sports


Manchester United’s miserable season slumped to a new low this week as they crashed out of the Champions League, finishing last in their group after a timid 1-0 defeat at home to Bayern Munich.


Finishing the group stage in bottom position for just the second time in the club’s history means they fail to qualify for the second-tier European competition, the Europa League.


Having already been knocked out of the domestic Carabao Cup and sitting ten points off the title pace in the Premier League, only the FA Cup remains for the Red Devils to chase in terms of silverware.


Erik Ten Hag’s second season at Old Trafford has been a disappointment in many ways, particularly given the team’s progression throughout his first campaign at the helm.


In both results and performances, the side appears to have regressed in the first half of the new season.


Instead, this campaign has been characterised by off-field distractions, including a looming part-sale of the club, ugly rifts between the coach and multiple players, and the banning of multiple journalists.


Ten Hag is under mounting pressure, though there is reportedly little appetite among the current club hierarchy to axe another manager.


But this weekend’s blockbuster clash with Liverpool looms as a decisive moment for both the Dutch tactician and the club – for better or worse.


Here’s what has gone wrong this season, and what could happen next.


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Ten Hag is noted for his harsh discipline and cold intensity – which was reportedly one of the key reasons why the club poached him from Ajax in the first place.


“Strict lines is what the club asked me because there was no good culture before I entered last season,” said Ten Hag this September.


Last season he was praised for his handling of a feud with Cristiano Ronaldo, after the Portuguese player fumed at being used mostly as a substitute. Ronaldo left the stadium during one match after being taken from the field, and then refused to be substituted on for the final three minutes against Tottenham in October 2022. He was subsequently axed from the squad for the next game against Chelsea.


Then the Portuguese great went nuclear in an interview with Piers Morgan, saying he had “no respect” for Ten Hag and claiming the club had “betrayed” him.


“The interview I think, as a club, you can’t accept,” Ten Hag said. “There will be consequences. To make that step he knew the consequences.”


“It was quite clear after [the interview] that he had to leave. I think we didn’t have to discuss it. It was quite clear.”


Ronaldo subsequently moved to Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr.


Then, in September, Ten Hag axed Jadon Sancho from the first-team squad, forcing him to train and eat away from the senior players.


Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)

Source: AFP

It came after Sancho publicly hit out at comments from Ten Hag after being dropped for a crucial match against Arsenal.


“Jadon, on his performances in training we did not select him,” Ten Hag said at the time.


Sancho took to social media to say: “Please don’t believe everything you read! I will not allow people to say things that are completely untrue. I have conducted myself in training very well this week.


“I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into, I’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair!


“All I want to do is play football with a smile on my face and contribute to the team. I respect all decisions that are made by the coaching staff, I play with fantastic players and I am grateful to do so, which I know every week is a challenge. I will continue to fight for this badge no matter what!”


Sancho refused to apologise to Ten Hag and has been frozen out for three months now, with a transfer a near-certainty in January’s window.


There were widespread reports that Ten Hag’s harsh treatment of Sancho had caused tension in the dressing room.


“This is what I’ve been hearing… from a Man United player who told someone I know very well,” former Manchester United player Alan Brazil said on talkSPORT. “He said the players are not having the manager. They’re not having him at all. By all accounts, they are disgusted by the way he treated Ronaldo – and they say Sancho is a great guy who works his socks off.”


Other players have also showed signs of frustration with the manager. Marcus Rashford had a stroppy reaction to being substituted off amid a dismal individual performance against Newcastle, while Anthony Martial raised his arms in frustration after Ten Hag shouted in his direction in the same game. Ten Hag has also had a falling out with World Cup-winning defender Raphael Varane in recent weeks.


Raphael Varane at a training session. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

Paul Merson told Sky Sports in November: “This needs to get sorted out but personally I think it is toxic, I don’t take too much notice of behind the scenes, but it is toxic on the pitch and that is where it counts… There are ways of losing football matches and, for me, he has lost the players.”


The club then took the drastic action to ban journalists from ESPN, the Daily Mirror, the Manchester Evening News and Sky Sports after all those outlets reported on tensions in the dressing room.


The club and Ten Hag were heavily criticised for that move, which Manchester United claimed was not due to the reporters panning the club, but because they did not give United the right of reply.


But the dressing-room tensions combined with the battle with the press has been an ugly distraction.


“He (Ten Hag) has got to be worried and thinking about what’s going to happen now,” United great Jaap Stam told the Stick to Football podcast.


“You can ban players, but it’s also about man management of course and how to work with and handle players.


“There was the [Cristiano] Ronaldo thing, the [Jadon] Sancho thing, Raphael Varane probably – I don’t know if something’s happened over there.


“There’s the thing with the press now and banning journalists from press conferences. It doesn’t work in your favour as a manager.


“You need to have peace and quiet… you don’t want to pay too much attention to other things like players and the press.”


But midfielder Scott McTominay came out and backed the manager, denying reports of a ‘toxic’ dressing room.


“It’s not just a case like with some of the other managers where it’s been a little bit toxic at times,” McTominay said. “The boys are firmly behind the manager. That’s the be-all and end-all and the way it will remain. We’ve got an amazing coaching staff, as well.”



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“We want to dominate opponents, we want to play proactive football, we want to play dynamic football,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports earlier this season. “Pressing is a part of it. The in-possession stuff also has to be right.”


It sounds like a clear tactical plan, an approach being built by Ten Hag over his 18 months in charge. The truth is far different. In his first season, United played in a more transitional style – which brought success. But this season, trying to play a more fluid and possession-based style (which brought Ten Hag great success at Ajax) has been a shambles.


United often appear to lake cohesiveness on and off the ball. Players appear frustrated or unclear on where they are meant to be positioned or their roles in the structure.


United have been pressing well at times – this season, no Premier League teams has made more turnovers in advanced positions.


But they are extremely vulnerable to the counter-attack, such as against Bournemouth in a bruising defeat, while their style of pressing is often porous, allowing opponents to expose gaps and stretch the defence.


The defensive line itself has been little better than a shambles, vacillating between a high line and a tendency to drop back to mitigate their lack of pace compared to opposition forwards.


In possession, the “dynamic” football Ten Hag speaks of has been far from the reality on the pitch. United struggle horribly to play the ball out from the back, while their midfielders give away possession frequently. They cannot “dominate opponents” with their midfield incapable of controlling the ball in the centre of the park – an area where Bayern Munich comfortably outclassed them.


With Bruno Fernandes further up the pitch, United lack the sort of deep-lying playmaker capable of progressing the ball either by passing or carrying, as Declan Rice does so well for Arsenal.


Pressure is mounting. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)

Source: AFP

Paul Merson told Sky Sports earlier in the season: “You watch Man Utd play and you just don’t see the pattern of play. It’s like if it comes off, it comes off. You watch Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City play, they have patterns of play. Someone will go in and come back out, but at Man Utd, it’s get the ball out wide and hope that Rashford does something and if he does, we might score a goal.”


But scoring goals has been a major problem, with just 18 goals in 16 appearances. Rashford has suffered a shocking decline in form after a career-best 30 goals in all competitions last season.


That saw him earn a hefty contract upgrade, but he has scored just twice this season – with one of those from the penalty spot. New striker signing Rasmus Hojlund is goalless in 12 league appearances, the same as Antony, while Anthony Martial has just one goal in 13.


United’s lack of goals contributed significantly to the team suffering their worst-ever Premier League start through seven games, and things have hardly improved since then.


Only three teams in Europe’s top five leagues have lost more games in all competitions this season than United (12). Those 12 defeats from 24 matches is as many as United lost in all 62 matches last season!


They lost two home games in the Champions League and in their six group stage games, conceded a total of 15 goals – the most ever by a Premier League club in a Champions League group stage.


Even when they have been winning, like November when Ten Hag was awarded Premier League manager of the month for three wins and no goals conceded, the performances haven’t matched the results.


Crisis has never seemed far away.



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Many Premier League clubs have battled long injury lists this season, including Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs, Newcastle, and Chelsea. But Manchester United have faced plenty of injury challenges of their own.


When they travel to Anfield on Monday morning (AEDT), the Red Devils will be without 11 first-team players. The host of injured stars includes Lisandro Martinez (foot), Casemiro (thigh), Tyrell Malacia (knee), Christian Eriksen (knee) and Amad Diallo (knee), while Mason Mount (calf) also hasn’t played in a month.


Luke Shaw has recovered from a thigh issue he suffered in the first half against Bayern Munich, but November Premier League player of the month Harry Maguire will be missing with a groin injury.


Marcus Rashford has recovered from a mid-week illness that saw him miss the Munich game, but Anthony Martial is still unwell, while Victor Lindelof trained this week but is listed as doubtful for the Liverpool game.


Captain Bruno Fernandes will be missing after a suspension for accumulating too many cards, and Jadon Sancho is still in exile.


Fernandes’ absence is perhaps the biggest blow. He has three goals and three assists this season for United, meaning he has been directly involved in a third of their 18 goals. No other Premier League midfielder has played every minute of the season so far, and he leads the league in chances created with 47.


Fernandes’ absence is a tough blow. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)

Source: AFP

There have been other ugly off-field dramas that have ruled players out of matches this year, such as when big-money winger Antony missed three games while being investigated over abuse claims from multiple ex-partners.


And young talent Mason Greenwood was offloaded to Spain after police withdrew multiple charges of domestic violence and abuse after his partner stopped cooperating with an investigation.


The long list of injuries has been a crucial factor in why Ten Hag has not been under more pressure, despite 12 losses in 24 games (all competitions).


But the real reason that he retains the support of the Manchester United hierarchy is that a long-awaited partial sale of the club is nearing completion – and it will significantly alter the decision-making at Old Trafford.




The billionaire American Glazer family has been controlling owners of Manchester United since 2005, when they purchased the club for £790 million.


Their 18-year tenure has been marked by a lack of effective leadership, poor long-term planning, limited investment, and a tendency to sack managers frequently. Fans have regularly protested the Glazers throughout their reign, and their prayers appeared to have been answered early this year when the Glazers announced they would explore a sale of the club.


But despite multiple offers, the Glazers backflipped on a complete sale and instead cut a deal with British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to buy 25 per cent of the club for around 1.3 billion pounds ($A2.46bn).


The deal will see Ratcliffe, who owns INEOS Grenadiers cycling team as well as French top-flight club OGC Nice, take control of all football operations – including transfers as well as managerial appointments.


The deal is expected to be completed in the next week, according to reports from the UK, but will take six to eight weeks to be ratified by the Premier League.


However, Ratcliffe’s sporting guru Sir Dave Brailsford, INEOS’ sporting director who is set to lead the new football department at Old Trafford, has already been conducting a full audit of Manchester United.


Sky Sports reports that Brailsford’s top priority is to fix the football department’s operational structure rather than focus on managerial changes.


In the meantime, United’s interim boss Patrick Stewart and football director John Murtough are seen as unwilling to change managers before INEOS takes over full control – especially since Murtough signed Ten Hag in the first place and allowed the new manager to splash the cash in the transfer market. Stewart has only been in the role a month, and would hardly want to make such a big decision.


But Ratcliffe and Brailsford are no strangers to hiring and firing managers – they’ve changed managers at Nice four times in the last five years but with precious little success.


They even interviewed former Chelsea boss Graham Potter in mid-year for the head coaching role at the French club, with Sky Sports and The Sun both reporting Potter is a chief contender to take over at United should Ten Hag be relieved of his role.


Ten Hag is confident he has the support of the current club hierarchy.


“I feel that and they tell (me) that,” the Dutchman said ahead of the Liverpool clash.


“So that’s fine, that’s OK but I’m focusing on the process, I’m focusing on making this team play better, I’m focusing on making the individuals better. That’s my concern. That’s all I’m doing – focusing on the right thing and that is the team.


“There is no concern because I’m here to win and I have to make the team play better. If you play good, even then good is not good enough. We are inconsistent so I have to work on the team playing for longer periods on a higher level.”


But the pressure is rising as the losses mount up. One more loss could tip things over the edge.


Things are threatening to seriously unravel. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)

Source: AFP



Manchester United will travel to Anfield in a match that pits two teams that are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.


While the Red Devils are crumbling, the Reds are flying – top of the table, a perfect seven wins from seven at home (21 scored, five conceded), and with Mohamed Salah recently scoring his 200th goal for the club.


The Egyptian talisman has picked up a goal or assist in 16 consecutive home games and he’s scored more goals against Man United than any other club (12).


United, meanwhile, haven’t won any of their last 13 away games against teams starting the day in the top eight on the ladder, a run dating back to October 2021.


And when the two teams met last season at Anfield, the Reds handed out a 7-0 thrashing. It was United’s equal-heaviest competitive defeat in history and their worst since December 1931.


In fact, Manchester United hasn’t won at Anfield since Jurgen Klopp’s first experience of the famous rivalry back in January 2016, when Wayne Rooney scored the only goal.


Since then, Rooney has played for three clubs, retired, then managed three. Klopp’s Reds have won the Premier League and the Champions League.


And Manchester United have sacked four managers.


While there’s no appetite among the current leadership at Old Trafford to make it five, another big defeat at Anfield could make Ten Hag’s position almost untenable.


























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