'Cruel' - Gary Neville defends Man United and says Erik ten Hag can't complain about decision delay

Gary Neville and Erik ten Hag
-Credit: (Image: Sky Sports)


Gary Neville has defended the length of time it took Manchester United to make a decision on Erik ten Hag's future after the club revealed he would be staying as manager.

Ineos and Sir Jim Ratcliffe conducted a lengthy review after United finished in their lowest ever Premier League position of eighth. It had been reported that the 50-year-old was facing the axe regardless of whether they beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley last month, but in a twist it was revealed on Tuesday night that the Dutchman will remain as manager.

Former Man United full-back Neville, now a successful pundit, says that Ten Hag can have no complaints over the amount of time it took to come to a decision, or that other managers were sounded out.

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Delivering his opinion on Ten Hag's situation, Neville told The Overlap: "It isn’t cruel to have kept Erik ten Hag hanging for two weeks whilst Manchester United review the last two years of his work.

"He must accept that the season he delivered wasn’t good enough in terms of the heavy defeats that United suffered and the lack of cohesion in the team structure, especially when you consider the shots on goal conceded.

"The fact is, he probably would have been gone by now if he had lost the FA Cup final and no one was really anticipating a performance like that, a display on which you could almost hang your hat. But I don’t think he can complain that United have taken their time to consider options. Any Manchester United manager finishing eighth knows that their job is on the line."

United earned a shock 2-1 victory over City to win the FA Cup and that has seemingly given Ten Hag more time, despite the fact that Ratcliffe held talks with Thomas Tuchel in Monaco last week. However, the former Bayern Munich boss is planning to take a break from coaching, while Gareth Southgate, Thomas Frank and Graham Potter were among the other names linked.

Neville, speaking before the decision was announced, said he felt links with Southgate - who had been favourite to replace Ten Hag at one point - were wrong, and that the fact the England boss was tied up with the Euros played a huge part in him not being pursued.

And he says that despite all the delays and obvious conversations United have had with other potential candidates, Ineos and Ten Hag now need to 'be grown up' and get on with the job in hand together.

He added: "I don’t actually see Gareth at Manchester United as a fit for him or the club. But regardless of that, if they do want him, I don’t think Gareth would risk his reputation, for integrity, by doing anything to jeopardise this EURO 2024 campaign.

"Even though it looks like they’ve spoken to other people, I suspect everyone can be grown up, shake hands and get on with the job, even though ten Hag knows he isn’t their No.1 choice."