Former Manchester United coach tells Sir Jim Ratcliffe why he needs to sack Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag has won two trophies in two seasons at Manchester United
-Credit: (Image: Robin Jones/Getty Images)

Former Manchester United first-team coach Mike Phelan believes Erik ten Hag does not deserve to continue on as manager at Old Trafford, despite his FA Cup triumph.

The 61-year-old said the Dutchman would have already been dismissed under previous hierarchies after a 'disappointing' season that ended with a cup final win that was 'out of the blue'. He mooted that a sack decision might have been delayed due to the limited replacement options available.

Ex-United coach colleague Kieran McKenna inked a new deal at Ipswich on Thursday amid speculation linking him to United. But Roberto De Zerbi, once on Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s alternative manager shortlist, is available after leaving Brighton.

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Mauricio Pochettino, sacked by Chelsea at the end of the season, is also free for hire, having been one of the initial candidates considered by United before Ten Hag was appointed in the summer of 2022.

Phelan was removed from his role as first-team coach shortly after Ten Hag arrived at the club, having first taken a coaching role at United in the 1999/2000 campaign within their Centre of Excellence. He became Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant in 2008 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's number two in 2018 via managerial spells at Norwich and Hull City.

Phelan argued that Ratcliffe, who has wiped out and restocked the United board since his arrival, is looking for continuity in the dugout. He believes, though, that Ten Hag should be shown the exit door.

“Past regimes I would have said he would have been gone,” Phelan told talkSPORT. “Yes the ownership is still there but I think this new regime is looking for continuity. I think that’s a different attitude, whether that gives Ten Hag the opportunity to go again, I’m not sure.”

Asked whether Ten Hag has built up enough credit to stay on for another shot, Phelan replied: “No, I don’t. That is just the way I see it. We are talking about Manchester United here. It’s a big decision. An important decision.

“(Ten Hag) has been forthright and honest. He obviously sees things internally, he’s got a group of players where he is going to get some out and get some in. He’s confident he is going to take it to another level and that’s great.”

He added: “He won the FA Cup out of the blue I think nobody expected it, playing in a style he should have thought about a little bit earlier in the season. This season you can’t say anything other than it’s been very disappointing.

“Not just the performances look at the stats, the stats tell you everything, goals conceded, goals scored even, it’s been unusual.”

Phelan dismissed Ten Hag’s reasoning that United’s record worst Premier League finish was due to injuries, stating that 'you get on with it.' He mooted that Ten Hag might still be in the job due to a lack of alternatives around.

“It has taken a lot longer than to release Louis van Gaal after the cup final,” Phelan continued. “Who do (Ineos) they want? Are they available? Sometimes, it’s easier to get people out than to get people in. You need a manager, with full backing.”