Sir Jim Ratcliffe can solve manager problem and deal Liverpool major blow with bold move

Sporting Lisbon head coach Ruben Amorim
Sporting Lisbon head coach Ruben Amorim -Credit:Pedro Loureiro/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Erik ten Hag’s days at Manchester United look numbered and his tone deaf press conference on Monday cast a man who can see the writing on the wall.

Calling those who critiqued his surrendering of a 3-0 lead to a Championship club unlikely to make the play-offs a “disgrace” denotes him either oblivious or nervous. “For me as a manager, four cup finals in four years,” seems more like a CV statement than a reassuring message of unity for fans.

Ten Hag has been included in pre-season planning and transfer discussions but that does not indicate Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s final decision on his future. The Manchester Evening News understands that the INEOS chief has had doubts over whether or not the Dutchman is the man for his long-term project.

READ MORE: Erik ten Hag claims Antony was provoked by Coventry players

READ MORE: Every word of Erik ten Hag's explosive press conference rant

An undisclosed decision on Ten Hag is expected before the end of the season, out of necessity as much as for forward-planning reasons. This summer will see a merry-go-round of managers, sparked by Jurgen Klopp’s forthcoming exit from Liverpool and Thomas Tuchel’s imminent Bayern Munich departure.

If United also wish to change managers, they will have at least two European big-hitters to contend with in their hunt for Ten Hag’s successor, both of whom will be able to offer Champions League football.

One name that has been bandied about, particularly in relation to the job at Anfield, is Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim. In 2021, he guided his club to the Portuguese title for the first time in 19 years and is on track for another crown this May.

Amorim has stayed placid about his future beyond Sporting, but it will be surprising to still see him in Lisbon come August. West Ham were unexpectedly linked with the 39-year-old this week but it seems those rumours have quickly grown cold.

In fact, Portuguese outlet Record suggests that a move to both the Hammers or Liverpool - now targeting Feyenoord boss Arne Slot - looks unlikely. This opens the door for United.

Amorim is known for playing three at the back and adopting a high press amid a possession-driven philosophy. He has also built a reputation for being able to work with tight finances.

Out of the big three clubs in Portugal, Sporting have the lowest revenue compared to Benfica and Porto but are considered to have the highest squad value. Amorim would have more financial scope at Old Trafford but Ratcliffe will very much have to mind Premier League spending rules.

Sacking Ten Hag and the compensation that it incurs contributes towards Financial Fair Play and the money United would have to pay Sporting for Amorim would also take a chunk out of the transfer budget. And United are yet to negotiate a fee with Newcastle for sporting director Dan Ashworth having already paid out for new technical director Jason Wilcox.

The club’s involvement in the Champions League this season will afford more headspace than was available in January but Amorim may have to be clever with spending initially, should he ever be appointed.

What his arrival would do, though, is send a message to Liverpool and other top six rivals that Ratcliffe is not here to play and is ready to rival the elite once more.