Greenwood shambles, lost sense of reality, no control – Erik ten Hag sack verdict after Man United decline

Erik ten Hag during the FA Cup semi-final
Erik ten Hag during the FA Cup semi-final -Credit:2024 The FA

It is somewhat unusual that a Manchester United manager is under so much pressure after leading his team into the FA Cup final.

But such was the manner of United's win over Coventry – and it's a stretch to even call it a victory – that Erik ten Hag had to answer questions regarding his job, with speculation now rife that he could be replaced in the summer.

The Dutchman called such talk "crazy" but the reality is Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are considering Ten Hag's position. United's performances this season have been underwhelming and often very chaotic, so what should Ratcliffe do regarding the manager's future?

Here, MEN Sport's United writers give their verdict on Ten Hag's future:

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Samuel Luckhurst

Ten Hag passed the point of no return to transform United into a credible force months ago and now he is too far gone. He does not sound or act like a United manager and hasn't for several months.

United's regression this season is so striking after a progressive first season under Ten Hag. But since the atrocious and abandoned reintegration of Mason Greenwood back into the squad in early August, United have lurched from one crisis to another and it has been an omnishambles.

Ten Hag has to take responsibility for Greenwood. He could have washed his hands of him. He was on shaky moral ground the moment it emerged he was keen to have Greenwood in the United squad. That call made the departures of Richard Arnold and John Murtough inevitable.

United have wasted hundreds of millions on Ten Hag's watch (Antony, Mason Mount, Sofyan Amrabat), the injury toll is partly a consequence of his training methods and an incompetent medical department that should be gutted. United have no style, they have seldom won convincingly this season and this is shaping up to be their worst season in the Premier League era. They have been in gradual decline since the League Cup triumph in February last year.

Since Ratcliffe agreed to minority stakeholding, the chief executive jumped before he was pushed and the football director fell on his sword. The manager is next in line.

Crucially, Ten Hag has lost the support of the matchgoers. His approval ratings are at an all-time low - after an FA Cup semi-final win. United fans could not leave Wembley quickly enough after the winning penalty kick. They voted with their feet: Ten Hag out.

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Tyrone Marshall

When the whistle blew to end the 90 minutes at Wembley you would have had to travel far and wide to find a United fan convinced that Ten Hag is still the man for the job. It was a 20-minute spell that should have taken away any lingering possibility that he would get another season in charge.

It turned an FA Cup semi-final into a quite bizarre spectacle. Ten Hag was stood on the touchline trying to guide his team to a major final when he must have known that what had just happened was the end game for him at Old Trafford.

He said after the game he needed to "teach" his players to stop losing control of games and conceding goals in clusters. The same problems have been occurring all season and he clearly can't teach them. He also can't build a side with any semblance of control in midfield this season. Tactical failings that were obvious in the autumn are still there for all to see now.

The only question now is when he goes. The league season could yet unravel given more injuries were picked up at the weekend. It should be six points this week but nobody would be surprised if it wasn't.

On the evidence of this season, when City have outplayed United twice, they are heading for certain defeat in the cup final. If Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made his mind up then why would he even let Ten Hag take charge of it? It would be harsh, but he is a ruthless businessman and at the moment United have little chance of winning at Wembley on May 25.

The pressure was on Erik ten Hag after Manchester United's FA Cup semi-final
The pressure was on Erik ten Hag after Manchester United's FA Cup semi-final -Credit:Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Steven Railston

The writing was on the wall for Ten Hag when United crashed out of Europe and the Carabao Cup before Christmas and although he oversaw an upturn in results at the beginning of the year, performances remained unconvincing and a clear style of play was still absent.

It wasn't logical to sack him in the middle of the season because there were no alternatives and there was a chance of qualifying for the Champions League and winning the FA Cup.

But there must be a change in the summer - Ten Hag has taken this side backwards. United are a poorly coached team, they concede too many shots, their press is dysfunctional and they give the opposition acres of space to exploit between the defence and midfield.

The same problems have been seen throughout the season and Ten Hag has been unable to fix them, culminating in a spectacular collapse against Coventry.

Ten Hag has become indefensible and his press conferences have further damaged his cause. He sounds like a manager on the brink, he's lost sense of reality and it's nonsense to think there isn't a manager out there who could have United performing better.

Dominic Booth

The sense of apathy at the full-time whistle at Wembley told its own story. This was hardly a victory and even Ten Hag, who often hits the wrong note in press conferences, was not tone-deaf in his post-match interviews. He surely knows his own United future is slipping away.

It's a combination of his in-game decisions – too often substituting Alejandro Garnacho, for example – and his tactics that have landed him in this mess. United do not control games and they are far too easy to play against. The responsibility for that lies with the manager.

New owners equates to a clean slate for United this summer and, whatever now happens in the FA Cup final (and surely United cannot hope to beat City anyway), Ten Hag's position feels untenable. It's time for a new start and a change in the dugout. There is no sense of progress under Ten Hag; in fact, United have gone backwards under him.