Manchester United are obviously on a run of one win in a dozen matches, and Ten Hag has been ‘told’ he has three games left before Mourinho comes into play.
This Mediawatch and it is published every week day. Here’s the latest…
Some of a dressing room, anyway. It is not particularly clear just how much support Erik ten Hag still enjoys throughout his squad, but the writing very much seems to be on the wall for the Dutchman.
In fact, the Daily Mirror website reports the following:
‘Erik ten Hag told how many Man Utd games he has to save his job amid player revolt’
And that, dear reader, is massive news. The countdown and the pressure is very much on. How long does he have? Eight matches? One? It really could be anything.
‘Erik ten Hag has been told that he has three games to save his job, as the Manchester United dressing room turns against him,’ the article begins, giving us our first answer. Three games. Crikey. Not long then. But from where does this information come? A well-placed source? Sir Jim Ratcliffe himself?
‘Following Saturday’s meek 1-0 defeat away to Newcastle, it’s emerged that several players have become disillusioned with Ten Hag’s management ahead of a crucial run of games. The Red Devils welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea to Old Trafford on Wednesday before another home Premier League match against an in-form Bournemouth side this Saturday.’
Plenty of preamble but we’re getting there.
‘Then comes a must-win Champions League clash with already-qualified Bayern Munich, but even three points at Old Trafford next Tuesday might not be enough for United to reach the knockout phase. Should Ten Hag’s nightmare continue and they end up losing all three of those games, Arsenal legend Paul Merson has predicted that the Dutchman won’t be in charge when the Red Devils travel to Anfield on Sunday, December 17 to face arch enemies Liverpool.’
And there it bloody is. Ten Hag has been ‘told many how Man Utd games he has to save his job’… by Paul Merson. It’s just a basic pundit prediction. While his opinion is perfectly valid, it might not have too much bearing on decisions made in the Manchester United boardroom.
No way, Jose
The Daily Express website chooses not to frame the words of Paul Merson as some sort of high Manchester United leak, but they do plumb phenomenal depths of their very own with this:
‘Man Utd may turn to Jose Mourinho move this month as ’50 per cent’ of squad in turmoil’
You would be forgiven for reading that ‘Man Utd may turn to Jose Mourinho move this month’ before concluding that, well, Manchester United might turn to Jose Mourinho move this month. It’s comeback season and the Portuguese is next. Poor Luke Shaw.
But that ‘move’ is awful clunky, mightily conspicuous. It makes no sense. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and for good reason.
Why? Because the ‘Jose Mourinho move’ Manchester United might resort to is sacking their manager. They may also turn to Scott Parker move this month, or Paul Heckingbottom move if Sheffield United ever pull their finger out.
It is obviously complete and utter nonsense, up to and including the claim that ‘it’s drawing alarming parallels to Mourinho’s final campaign at Old Trafford before his sacking on December 18, 2018’.
Well Mourinho was sacked after suffering an eighth defeat in 2018/19; Ten Hag is already on his 10th and counting. They also exited the Carabao Cup at different stages. And Manchester United had already qualified from their Champions League group heading into their final game under Mourinho, whereas five years later even victory in their last match doesn’t guarantee progress to the knockout rounds.
They do, however, face Liverpool in December in a mirror of Mourinho’s final game. Those are some ‘alarming parallels’ (if you want to get Mourinho into a panicky Manchester United headline).
Many a Daily Mirror journalist has been invited to have their say on Ten Hag’s current predicament, starting with Ben Husband:
‘Look at the contrast between United’s richly assembled squad and the injury ravaged Tottenham team that was so impressive at the Etihad. One team is being encouraged to play expressive, free-flowing football which excites the fans and gives reason for optimism. The other is Manchester United.’
And while that is entirely true, Manchester United do also have more than £200m worth of that ‘richly assembled squad’ currently out injured in a season underpinned by similar issues to those Tottenham have suffered from, while they are only three points behind Ange Postecoglou’s side.
Ten Hag’s team have been largely awful this season but some context is necessary.
‘Ten Hag is seemingly being given a chance solely because he won a tournament none of his major rivals were that fussed about playing in.’
And that is entirely untrue. Ten Hag does not remain in the job on the sole basis that he won the League Cup almost a year ago. Obviously.
Can Daniel Orme please be a little more sensible?
‘Since their defeat to Galatarasay [sic] at Old Trafford, pretty much every game since then has been a must win. They’ve won just once. It isn’t good enough’
But that, too, isn’t true. At all. Not even nearly. They’ve played 11 games since defeat to Galatasaray at Old Trafford and won six of those matches, including three in a row straight after defeat to Galatasaray at Old Trafford. It still isn’t good enough but it certainly isn’t as bad as a completely fabricated run of one win in 12 would have been.
But the final word goes to John Cross:
‘This debate is only happening because of Manchester United’s performances.’
Now that is true. Absolutely nailed it. Well done, that man. Strange point to feel the need to make in the circumstances but still.
You spin me right round
The same website carries this headline:
‘Three Man Utd legends round on Erik ten Hag as Man Utd dubbed ‘boring, ugly and lazy”
And while Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes calling out “lazy players” and saying “if they’re not going to work as hard as the opposition, then you’re in trouble” inevitably reflects poorly on the manager, those three Man Utd legends are very much rounding on the squad first and foremost.
The ‘lund of the rising sun
With Samuel Luckhurst exclusively reporting in the Manchester Evening News that ‘some time-served players are startled by the calibre of Ten Hag’s signings,’ with one ‘particularly perplexed by the addition of the callow Rasmus Hojlund, a £72million signing from Atalanta who is yet to score in the Premier League,’ is it safe to assume Manchester United are no longer getting exactly what they wanted from the Dane?
That being said, Mediawatch’s thoughts are with Luckhurst at this difficult time.