Why Manchester United are keeping Erik ten Hag as manager as contract talks begin

-Credit: (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images.)
-Credit: (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images.)

Manchester United have decided to keep Erik ten Hag as manager after conducting a lengthy review into the season.

Ten Hag enjoyed an excellent first year in Manchester, but United struggled last season and finished eighth in the Premier League, leading to uncertainty around his future.

United won the FA Cup against Manchester City to salvage something from an otherwise bleak campaign and it took 17 days after that game for a decision to be communicated.

Club sources confirmed late on Tuesday night that Ten Hag will remain in charge and that talks have opened with the Dutchman over the extension of his contract.

ALSO READ: United announce decision on Erik ten Hag after season review

ALSO READ: United youngster Forson set for surprise move to Italian club

It's understood INEOS officials have recognised the achievement of winning two trophies in two seasons and Ten Hag has been given a vote of confidence to continue as manager.

The ability to deliver trophies in an environment that has challenged former United managers has been a feather in Ten Hag's cap and other factors have been considered.

Ten Hag's work with developing young players has been looked upon advantageously. The 54-year-old has overseen the progress of youngsters Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo and both players scored in the FA Cup final triumph against City.

United feel Ten Hag has particularly excelled with youngsters at the club, which they hope has created potential for the squad to improve in next season and beyond.

Following the conclusion of the season review, club insiders believe there have been 'serious mitigations' for last term's underperformance in the Premier League - United finished the campaign with a minus goal difference - and in the Champions League.

Ten Hag was forced to contend with an unrelenting injury crisis throughout the campaign and the review concluded injuries were concentrated in key positions.

Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Jonny Evans and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all spent time on the sidelines with injuries.

The season review also determined that recent signings, like Andre Onana, Rasmus Hojlund and Mason Mount, were made with 'a long-term vision'.

Ten Hag has spent over £400million and has received the heaviest backing of any manager in the post-Sir-Alex Ferguson era - but recruitment has continued to be an issue.

Those reasons have been factored into United's decision to keep Ten Hag in charge and it's understood staff were reluctant to make a 'knee-jerk' decision on his future.

But there are still questions for INEOS and Ratcliffe's football structure to answer. United have considered sacking Ten Hag and have contacted other managers. Kieran McKenna was sounded out before the FA Cup final and Thomas Tuchel held talks with Ratcliffe in Monaco.

McKenna signed a long-term contract with Ipswich and Tuchel's name was withdrawn from the race earlier this week. The lack of alternatives to Ten Hag has strengthened his case.

Many considered Ten Hag's position as untenable due to the length of the season review and felt he'd been undermined by United contacting other managers.

United suffered a record number of defeats in a Premier League season and conceded their most goals in a campaign. Ten Hag oversaw a total of 19 defeats across all competitions in 2023/24 and that was the joint most since 1977/78 when United finished 10th in the table.

It's hoped opening contract talks with Ten Hag over a new deal will end the discussion around his future. Ten Hag has just entered the final year of his contract at Old Trafford and United could not give him a vote of confidence to continue without handing him a new deal.

The transfer window for Premier League opens on Friday and United can now push ahead with their summer transfer plans.