Jordan claims Man Utd boss Ten Hag won Ronaldo battle ‘by default’; repeats ‘small man in big suit’ dig

Joe Williams
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks dejected after a defeat.
Erik ten Hag looks dejected after a defeat.

Simon Jordan has doubled down on his view that Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is not an “elite” manager like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

The Red Devils have lost three of their first five Premier League fixtures this season after Brighton inflicted a 3-1 defeat on them at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Man Utd enjoyed a good first campaign under Ten Hag but their summer transfer business has not filled many fans and pundits with hope they can challenge for major honours this term.

Even in their two wins against Wolves and Nottingham Forest they’ve looked unconvincing and former Crystal Palace chairman has questioned Ten Hag’s suitability for such a high-profile job.

Put to him by host Jim White that he said last week that Ten Hag is not an elite manager, Jordan replied on talkSPORT: “Yes.”

On whether his opinion is likely to change while Ten Hag is at Man Utd, Jordan added: “Erm…look, again characterise it in a certain way, there are only a few elite managers. They are the guys that win things and, while he’s won a League Cup, it is a peripheral tournament in conjunction with Manchester United’s objectives.

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“Manchester United’s objectives were to win the Premier League and to win the Champions League and maybe worst-case scenario we are talking about winning an FA Cup. Of course there is value in winning a League Cup, I’m not diminishing that achievement but when I talk about elite I mean it’s the guys who can legitimately win things.

“I look at Guardiola, clearly in that situation, and I look at Klopp and I look at the rest of them and say there are some very, very good managers in there that are just beneath that level.

“Because they can’t all be elite, it depends what you determine elite to be. It’s the same with ‘world class’ it gets thrown around like confetti, there are only a few world-class players around. Every time someone plays well, ‘oh he’s world class’.”

White suggested that Man Utd are not going to win the Premier League this season, to which Jordan replied: “No, but who ever thought they were going to? Of course you start the football season as a Manchester United fan with expectations, that’s the nature of the beast of being a football fan.

“When you get promoted to the Premier League you go there with expectations and you go there with enthusiasm, then reality comes knocking on your door.”

On whether Man Utd should be going into every season expecting to win the Premier League, Jordan continued: “Yes. I made an observation a year ago and I haven’t really changed from that observation but I used an analogy that people use to ridicule.

“The fact that I thought he [Ten Hag] was a small man in a big suit and didn’t look like someone who exuded the authority or the necessary level of control over this huge football club. I haven’t really changed my view. I know he won the battle of Ronaldo. He won it by default.

“How did he win it? By Ronaldo setting it on fire by going on Piers Morgan’s show and making sure he got out the door. Not by going into a press conference and saying ‘I’m having no more of this’.

“He did it by default and by stealth and maybe that’s the way to do it, by a war of attrition.”