Football Sport: Man Utd chief Jim Ratcliffe has hinted at Erik ten Hag decision with rare public comments

Sir Jim Ratcliffe will put himself at risk of being labelled a hypocrite if he and INEOS decide to sack Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag this summer. United are reportedly currently assessing the Dutchman’s future as part of a review of a largely dismal second season in charge, somewhat salvaged by Saturday’s FA Cup win.

The Red Devils produced their worst-ever Premier League and Champions League campaigns, while data suggested they were fortunate to finish as high as eighth.

In doing so, they missed out on European qualification altogether before beating Manchester City 2-1 at Wembley Stadium in a shock result, earning a Europa League spot.

Ten Hag has supporters among pundits and fans alike after becoming the first United manager since Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011 to lift major trophies in back-to-back seasons.

Others believe the club’s regression this term is enough proof to suggest INEOS should start their stewardship of football operations with their own appointment in the dugout.

Reports last week claimed that United had already decided to sack Ten Hag, regardless of the outcome of the FA Cup final, due to the crisis mounting at Old Trafford.

Now, the 54-year-old’s future is as uncertain as it has ever been after the weekend’s events in the capital, leaving supporters frustrated ahead of a crucial summer transfer window.

However, Ratcliffe may have already provided a glimpse into his insight back in March when he praised Arsenal for sticking with Mikel Arteta throughout his early struggles.

When asked who he wanted to win the title on Geraint Thomas’ cycling podcast, Ratcliffe replied: “I hate them all.

“You’ve got Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal. I don’t know. They’re all the enemy. I couldn’t possibly choose one.

Winning the league would be good for Arteta. It would be good for him because he’s done really well, and Arsenal have been patient with him.”

Arsenal finished eighth twice in a row and then fifth in Arteta’s first three seasons in charge, having replaced Unai Emery in December 2019.

The Spaniard was under intense pressure from outside the club but arguably most of all from the disgruntled fanbase, who had grown tired of underperformance after Arsene Wenger’s retirement.

But Arsenal stood firm, believing in their long-term vision, and they are now reaping the rewards.

The Gunners haven’t yet won any major silverware since Arteta lifted the FA Cup in his first campaign, but they have taken Manchester City the distance in the last two Premier League title races.

It wouldn’t be the best look if Ratcliffe gave Ten Hag the chop after winning a second major trophy in as many seasons at Old Trafford, a higher total than Arteta has lifted in five at the Emirates Stadium.

However, INEOS must go with what they believe will be best for their own long-term vision, as ruthless as it may be, and there will be ongoing discussions about whether Ten Hag fits into it.

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