Consecutive 3-0 home defeats by Manchester City and Newcastle mean United have now endured their worst start to a season for 61 years. Speculation is now growing as to whether Ten Hag can turn around his side&aposs fortunes on the pitch but amid the fallout, plenty of focus has been on the bigger picture.
Gary Neville has been among several former Reds to look above Ten Hag, with those eyes generally glaring towards the Glazers. The American family have overseen a decade of failure since Sir Alex Ferguson&aposs 2013 retirement, running United like anything but a football club.
EXCLUSIVE: Some United players starting to doubt Ten Hag
Van Gaal is one of the many managers to try and follow Ferguson, with the no-nonsense Dutchman lifting the FA Cup in 2016 before being sacked the following summer. He sent a stark warning to his compatriot when links first began to surface last year.
“Erik ten Hag is a great coach and that is always good for Manchester United,” Van Gaal said in March 2022. “But Manchester United are a commercial club, so it&aposs a difficult choice for a coach. He&aposd better go to a football club. I&aposm not going to advise him, he&aposll call me himself. But he must choose a football club and not a commercial club.”
Ten Hag has made no attempt to evade blame for United&aposs dismal start, admitting after Wednesday&aposs defeat by Newcastle that his side have simply not been good enough. Some of his selection decisions have frustrated supporters who believe failure is being rewarded.
“I take responsibility for it,” he said. “I see it as a challenge, I&aposm a fighter, I am in the fight and I have to make sure I share the responsibility with the players that we stick together, fight together and get better results in.”
But there are also issues that the Dutchman cannot address, such as the protracted takeover process. Sir Jim Ratcliffe looks set to take a 25 per cent stake in the club after becoming the sole known bidder, but it has been almost 12 months since the Glazers announced their strategic review.
Ten Hag will also have little say on major infrastructure investments such as the stadium and training ground, each of which are expected to cost hundreds of millions of pounds.