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Erik ten Hag: Man United manager avoiding sack would be ‘very surprising’ – Schmeichel

Reports suggest Saturday's FA Cup final will be Ten Hag's farewell

Former Man United football goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel

Legendary Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel says he would be “very surprised” if Erik ten Hag is still in charge next season and believes the club has been “slowly eroding” since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from the hotseat in 2013.

On the eve of United’s FA Cup final against Manchester City, reports have claimed that beleaguered Ten Hag will be sacked regardless of whether his side wins the trophy in what is their last chance of qualifying for European football next season.

“We’ve been hearing about Erik’s position for a very, very long time,” said Schmeichel, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Everybody else at the top of Manchester United has left, and new people are coming in. Without saying I want Erik to lose his job, I’d be very surprised if he’s manager next year.

“I really hate the fact that Manchester United has become a club that keeps a manager for a short period of time and then, when things are not going the right way, sack him. You could see after Sir Alex left the football club that it was slowly eroding.”

Ten Hag became United’s fifth permanent manager in less than nine years when he arrived from Ajax in May 2022, as well as Ralf Rangnick’s interim spell for less than six months before the Dutchman took over.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe completed his deal to buy a 27.7% stake in United in February, taking over the football operations side of the club and pledging to change its culture.

Ratcliffe’s additions have included Sir David Brailsford in a key performance role and chief executive Omar Berrada, but United have continued to struggle on the pitch, never rising above sixth and finishing eighth during Ten Hag’s second season in charge while finishing bottom of their Champions League group.

Ratcliffe wants ‘clean start’ at United

“The way they’ve been going about the first couple of months in charge points to them wanting a clean start which is their project,” said Schmeichel, who was signed by Ferguson in 1991 and went on to win the Premier League five times, a hat-trick of FA Cup finals and the 1998/99 Uefa Champions League among a haul of trophies.

“[Ten Hag’s] been criticised heavily in the last few weeks, especially for the way he’s been communicating. I don’t think that’s what they are looking for.”

United are huge underdogs against a City side who finished 31 points above them as champions and beat them 2-1 in last season’s FA Cup final, and Schmeichel has also been dispirited by the dilapidated state of Old Trafford, which was highlighted when one of the stands leaked after a 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal earlier this month.

“There’s been no real leadership from the very, very top and it’s just been let go, really,” he said of the club. “The greatest example was when that game finished and the rain started – just how Old Trafford looked. That tells you everything.”

Picture of Ben Miller

Ben Miller

Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.