Ten Hag’s Arne Slot potshot can lead to Man Utd-Liverpool feud if Ratcliffe gets the memo

Will Ford
Erik ten Hag and Arne Slot with Liverpool and Man Utd badges.
Erik ten Hag and Arne Slot with Liverpool and Man Utd badges.

We urge Sir Jim Ratcliffe not to sack Erik ten Hag, who took a gratuitous swipe at new Liverpool manager Arne Slot to (hopefully) start a feud we’re craving after years of sickening respect between big club managers.

 

It seems Erik ten Hag didn’t get the memo about Dutch coaches having each other’s backs in the Premier League. Arne Slot is joining his compatriot in the English top flight, and might have appreciated some support as he prepares for the impossible job of replacing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

Instead, Ten Hag – with comments which should further improve his standing among the Manchester United fans after their FA Cup success – took quite the pop at Feyenoord, by association Slot, and therefore Liverpool, when assessing the Eredivisie season.

“People have been going overly lyrical about Feyenoord. Feyenoord were steady this year, but not top. PSV Eindhoven were two classes better in all areas. In terms of dominating the ball, in terms of putting pressure, in terms of intensity, you name it. Bosz and his staff did that top notch, but the rest of the club is also well put together. PSV Eindhoven were better than the rest by such a long distance, even so much better than Feyenoord.”

Yikes. And this assessment of Slot’s achievement last season is all the more amusing when put in the context of what the new Liverpool boss has said before about Ten Hag and the job he’s done at Manchester United. Not unreasonably, Slot saw his countryman as an ally.

“Erik is doing great and that is fantastic for the entire Dutch trainers’ guild. It took quite a long time before a number of great trainers from the Netherlands got a successor. That seems to me to be the case with Ten Hag. Certainly the way it happens and how praiseworthy it is spoken about is a positive development for me and all Dutch people.”

Admittedly that glowing review was from February 2023 when it was hard not to be impressed by Ten Hag’s impact at Manchester United, so we would urge anyone with a microphone and current access to Slot to thrust it in his face and ask for an updated evaluation of his fellow Dutchman in the hope that he would point out the Red Devils’ inferiority not just to champions Manchester City but also to Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle.

Slot would be well advised to stop gushing over the Manchester United boss as the new manager of their biggest rivals, but this Ten Hag slam offers him the perfect opportunity to earn brownie points among a fanbase that will need a hell of a lot of convincing that he’s fit to take over from an all-time great. And as neutrals we assume we can speak for everyone when we say: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’

MORE ON MANCHESTER UNITED FROM F365
👉 Can we be Frank? Manchester United might be replacing Ten Hag with a worse fit and bigger gamble
👉 Man Utd having a ‘Director of football negotiations’ is as big a joke as Chelsea’s ‘President of Business’
👉 Leverkusen sack Alonso, Chelsea press Mourinho button, Slot quits and other Managergeddon predictions

Premier League managers, and those leading the Big Six in particular, have been all too respectful of one another for far too long. Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have had an eight-year love-in, Mikel Arteta’s joined that circle jerk in the last couple of seasons and there’s a tedious lack of friction in general, rooted in sickening admiration for their various achievements.

Ten Hag has emerged as The Spiky One this season, taking swipes at Jamie Carragher and the Fulham TikToker among others before coming out swinging on the back of his second trophy in two years, insisting “if Manchester United don’t want me then I go somewhere else to win trophies because that is what I do.”

And that’s the problem. Sir Jim Ratcliffe could deny us what is shaping up to be a delightful feud by sacking its architect. The Manchester United owner is currently considering whether nice-guy Mauricio Pochettino or even Thomas Frank may be better options to lead his team next season.

But we implore you Sir Jim not to get bogged down by tactics, man-management or the structure in which you want your head coach to operate, but to consider just how engrossing it will be to see the Manchester United and Liverpool managers locked in a war of words that will inevitably see the two most historic football teams in England actively hate each other.

In the space of three days, by winning the FA Cup and having fired gratuitous shots at Arne Slot, Ten Hag has got the majority of Manchester United fans and all neutrals fighting his corner. Ten Hag in.