Ten Hague’s Manchester United future no longer depends on results

MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United held to a 1-1 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford on Saturday, but the result is no longer the only thing that matters to head coach Erik ten Hag.

We’ve reached the point where we see everything through the lens of the Dutchman’s future; every game and every performance is either a tick or a cross. Or will these ten witches remain at the club next season? Only Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS team will know the answer. That is, if they actually achieve that goal.

But the thing is, while deliberation and due diligence goes on behind the scenes, the Ten Witches are actually on trial. And a home draw against the Premier League’s second-last team can only be seen as another dent in his chances of keeping his job.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” Hag said when asked about Burnley’s late equalizer. “When you work hard and unite, it’s not necessary. We worked hard, controlled the game and had a lot of chances. It was ours for most of the game and then gave it away.” Ten Witches’ frustration The feeling is becoming more and more obvious.

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This week he refused to take questions from the media, who he said were “disrespectful” in their coverage of the FA Cup semi-final victory over Coventry City. He disliked the suggestion that needing penalties to beat a lower-division team coming from a three-goal lead was “embarrassing” or that the result somehow undermined his standing as a manager.

However, the disturbing truth is that the speculation surrounding the future of Ten Witches stems from Ratcliffe’s decision to remain silent.

If the 71-year-old British billionaire or anyone at Ineos makes it clear that he will definitely stay on as head coach next season, all the noise will disappear. Ratcliffe has given numerous interviews since confirming his 27.7% stake in February, but has chosen to remain tight-lipped when it comes to the head coach.

Instead, Ineos’ line is that they are “keeping their options open” and so, by extension, the Ten Witches are under threat. That has created a situation where coaches are privately campaigning for his position and the 54-year-old is pleading for patience from increasingly restless fans.

“We have some very young players and that’s why we are rebuilding the club and it takes time,” Ten Hag said. “They are both in their first season in the Premier League and things are getting more intense every year. These players have to adapt and it takes time. I’m impatient but we need to be patient.”

“Even with a great Manchester United team it takes time but everyone forgets – even the players in the squad – they forget they are struggling and need time to improve.”

The former Ajax boss has every reason to stay. He has one year left on his contract and last season won the Carabao Cup, reached the FA Cup final and finished third in the Premier League. This season he has dealt with injuries to key players such as Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw to reach a second successive FA Cup final and look to win his second trophy in as many years.

He has also developed young players Alejandro Garnacho and Kobe Mainu and turned them into first-team regulars, while also raising the standards of established players such as Diogo Dalot. But if this is a list for pros, there are plenty of entries on the other side of the schedule, too. United are almost certain to miss out on Champions League qualification and be eliminated before Christmas.

Burnley’s goal was the 77th they have conceded in all competitions, the most in any season for 45 years – by Zeki Amdouni at the end The penalty was scored after being tackled by André Onana at the moment. Their 52 league goals are the lowest of any team in the top nine.

Vincent Kompany’s side’s performance at Old Trafford will also raise more questions about Ten Hague’s game plan. Burnley had more possession and 16 shots on goal, 3 of which Onana saved brilliantly. On a different day, the visitors, who were unbeaten in eight games, would have led 2-0 at half-time.

Lyle Forster made a run through United’s back four more than once through midfield and, surprisingly, Burnley didn’t score until the 87th minute. United’s goal, scored by Anthony, came as a result of a Burnley error, before Kompany spoke like a man leaving disappointed with just one point.

“We have a chance, we have team spirit,” Kompany said. “Burnley did us proud today.” With three games left, they gave themselves a chance to hold on.

Ten Hag also had the chance to remain as Manchester United manager, but failure to beat Burnley at home will only add insult to injury for the fans, who have already decided that changes must be made this summer. If Ratcliffe and Ineos do not make a clear decision, Ten Hag will move on to the next game against Crystal Palace in nine days.

After the latest poor finish in a season filled with them, this week will be filled with more embarrassing questions, most of which the Ten Witches don’t want to answer. The jury can then reconvene at Selhurst Park to make more judgments about whether the United manager should stay or leave.

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