Football News

‘We’ve seen it all before’ – Gary Neville fears Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford is coming to an end

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:00, 15 April 2024 | Updated: 11:42, 17 April 2024

Gary Neville believes Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is walking the same line as his predecessors before their dismissal.

Since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down in 2013, the Red Devils have gone through four permanent head coaches before appointing Ten Hag ahead of the 2022/23 season.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and incumbent Ten Hag won two League Cups, a Europa League title, and one FA Cup trophy combined.

However, as one-time Man Utd skipper Roy Keane once said, a one-game losing streak at the Old Trafford-based club is seen as a crisis.


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Ten Hag’s second campaign has been full of undesirable milestones. After 32 matches played in England’s top division, Man Utd sits in seventh place and 13 points behind fourth-place Aston Villa for a spot in next season’s Champions League.

In recent weeks, United’s defensive weaknesses have been exposed, with only Luton (576) having faced more shots than Ten Hag’s side in the Premier League this season (574).

To put this in some greater context, they’ve already conceded more shots this season than any other Premier League campaign.

Since Opta started recording data in 2003-04, they are closer to 600 when only two seasons have been above 500 (511 in 2021-22, 506 in 2011-12).

Their most recent outing saw them play out a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, their fourth consecutive league game in which they’ve dropped points (three draws and one loss), and to say Neville is tired would be an understatement.

“There’s nothing more to say. We’ve seen it all before. It’s a repeat of what’s happened over the last six, seven, eight years with managers in their second or third seasons at Manchester United where there seems to be that breakdown at the end,” he told Sky Sports.

“The main thing is the performance levels, and we’ve seen at Brentford and Bournemouth. They are really low-performance levels, which is a worry.”

Ten Hag has often cited United’s casualty list throughout a brutal campaign, but Neville doesn’t believe that list holds up to scrutiny.

“I know people point towards the injuries and Manchester United have had a mountain of injuries but I said the same against Liverpool, nine of that team that started yesterday (Saturday) would probably be in the starting XI if everyone was fit.

“(Andre) Onana, (Harry) Maguire, (Diogo) Dalot, Casemiro, (Kobbie) Mainoo, Bruno Fernandes and (Rasmus) Hojlund, (Alejandro) Garnacho and (Marcus) Rashford.

“Those are nine players, who are Manchester United’s best players in those positions. You bring in Luke Shaw and you bring in (Lisandro) Martinez and you can possibly argue between (Raphael) Varane and Maguire but there’s nothing in it.

“They have had lots of injuries but at the moment there’s no excuses for the levels of the performances we’re seeing and every team has one or two players missing at certain points.

“There’s no explanation for how they are playing. The anger, or disappointment has gone out of many Manchester United fans’ voices. We’ve got to a point where the FA Cup is a big thing.

“Winning a trophy two seasons in a row should never be sniffed at. You’ve always said winning a trophy a season is a real achievement.

“But it is a bizarre experience watching Man United, how bad they can be in games. Watching the Liverpool game where parts they played well and parts they didn’t play well and the inconsistency is rife. I’m saying the same thing every single week, all Manchester United fans are, and they have just got to try get to the end of the season and win the FA Cup which is not going to be easy.”

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Having joined following a successful period at Ajax — in which he won three Eredivisie titles as well as reaching the 2018/19 Champions League semi-final — he recently passed 100 matches in charge of United, with his current win percentage better than any permanent head coach in the post-Ferguson era.

However, reports continue to grow, with Man Utd going in a new direction this summer under Jim Ratcliffe, who became a minority shareholder at the club and subsequently took control over sporting operations.

“I think you need to follow the process. We have good young players coming through. They are developing very well in their progress,” Ten Hag recently said when asked if Chelsea’s situation is a warning to Ratcliffe and United’s new co-owners Ineos.

“We are in a good way, a good direction and we need to make the next steps. Don’t interrupt this process.”

Man Utd’s next outing is an FA Cup semi-final against Coventry City, in which they seek to reach a record 22nd final.

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