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Ten Hag out: Is United's FA Cup triumph enough to save his job?

Why Man United's ownership must seriously consider Erik Ten Hag's future with the club 🔮

United are now just one FA Cup title short of Arsenal, who hold the record with 14 titles

Man United lifted their second piece of silverware in as many seasons on Saturday, upsetting their cross-town rivals Man City 2-1 in the FA Cup final. The win is the sole bright spot in what has been a miserable season by the club’s standards, with the Red Devils finishing eighth in the Premier League with a club record 14 losses. 😬 

United’s FA Cup triumph would normally be cause for celebration a sign of things to come for the talented core of young players who stepped up in a squad ravaged by injuries. But things aren’t so straightforward for United these days, and co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has a crucial decision to make that will dictate the club’s future for the next decade.

To sack or not to sack, that is the question

On Thursday, United announced they were parting ways with Erik Ten Hag after two seasons with the club. The decision was made with indifference to Saturday’s final, with reports indicating that the club was ready to move on from the Dutchman regardless of the game’s outcome.

Had United lost as expected, the club would have swiftly carried through with their decision and kicked Ten Hag to the curb. But Ten Hag is still with the club, suggesting that Ratcliffe and co. are reconsidering their decision amidst pressure from supporters.

Even the media has labeled the club’s decision as “ruthless,” pointing to how United’s decision to sack Louis van Gal despite winning the FA Cup in 2016 backfired tremendously.

Players have publicly backed their manager too. “I think, on a personal level, he’s been amazing for me. I can only thank him for that. I have a good relationship with him,” said defender Johnny Evans when asked how the squad would feel if Ten Hag left. “I hope he stays.”

This is not the reaction of a player who feels their manager is holding the club back.

Make no mistake: Ten Hag’s position is is still in serious doubt, but the fact that he wasn’t immediately fired after Saturday’s match suggests that club ownership is reconsidering their decision, or at the very least tempering expectations with players.

Ten Hag speaks

The Dutchman said he is still in the dark about whether he will manage Man United next season, but insists he will continue to win trophies – whether at Man United or elsewhere.

"Two trophies in two years is not bad, three finals in two years is not bad," Ten Hag said in a press conference after Saturday’s match. "If they don't want me, then I’ll go somewhere else to win trophies because that is what I do."

While it remains unclear where exactly club execs stand on the matter, Ten Hag made it abundantly clear how he feels about his tenure with the club.

"I am in a project and we are exactly where we want to be, we are constructing a team for the future. When I took over we were in a mess. The team is developing, the team is winning and the team plays to an identity, but you need the players to be available and a strong squad, especially when you play in England and Europe.”

The Dutchman has, after all, been at the helm for only two seasons, and building an elite squad takes time. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson, who took seven seasons to win the Prem at Old Trafford.

As an Arsenal fan, I’ll be the last person to wish Man United a sliver of success, but I can’t help but feel like the club would be making a mistake to part ways with ten Hag. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were the United teams from the 1990s and 2000s that Ratcliffe and co. are trying so desperately to replicate.

📚 Coaches’ corner: The ingenious tactics Ten Hag used to outclass Pep Guardiola.