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Man Utd: Gary Neville believes Man Utd have already made a decision on Erik ten Hag's future

Gary Neville on Erik ten Hag's future at Man Utd under Sir Jim Ratcliffe: "I suspect they've already come to a conclusion already. It may already be that it's Champions League or not, they still will stick with that decision."

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Gary Neville believes Manchester Utd may already have made a decision about Erik ten Hag's future

Gary Neville believes Man Utd may have already made a decision on manager Erik ten Hag's future - regardless of whether he can get the club into the Champions League.

United's four-match winning streak in the Premier League was brought to a crashing halt by Fulham at the weekend, when the Cottagers left Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory, to leave Ten Hag's side eight points off the top four.

Though the revamped Champions League format means finishing fifth would likely be enough to secure a spot in next season's competition, former club captain Neville, speaking on Monday Night Football, pointed to the club's confused playing style under Ten Hag as a serious concern.

He believes new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who now leads football operations at the club, may well have already decided his course of action given Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are already on the look-out for new managers to take up positions this summer.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Manchester United and Fulham

"If you look at [Omar Berrada] coming in from City as CEO, and looking to get Dan Ashworth from Newcastle, they're going to make a decision quite quickly if they haven't already," he said.

"I suspect Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford already know whether Erik ten Hag will be the manager next season. I can't believe they're going to wait until May to make that decision, and then leave themselves short.

"Where Man Utd have been found out in the last 10 years in recruitment is making poor decisions, late decisions, not being ahead of the game.

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Man Utd's next six fixtures

  • Nottm Forest (a) - Wednesday, FA Cup fifth round
  • Man City (a) - Sunday, live on Sky Sports
  • Everton (h) - March 9
  • Sheff Utd (h) - March 16
  • Brentford (a) - March 30, live on Sky Sports
  • Chelsea (a) - April 3

"I don't think they're going to do that, so for me I suspect they've already come to a conclusion already. It may already be that it's Champions League or not, they still will stick with that decision."

Neville pointed to Man Utd's long-running lack of a clear philosophy - contrasted with Jurgen Klopp's counter-pressing at Liverpool and Pep Guardiola's possession game at Man City - to raise questions about the direction of travel under Ten Hag, whose side have already lost one more game this season than in the entirety of 2022/23.

"There isn't anybody who watches Man Utd whether you're a fan or not a fan who knows what they're trying to do every single week, and that is an issue," he said.

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Speaking on his podcast, Gary Neville questioned what kind of team Manchester United are as their performances this season are so inconsistent and unpredictable.

"I was just thinking about the first Monday Night Football of the season against Wolves, when you had Casemiro in midfield with Mount and Fernandes pushing up.

"Those spaces in midfield alongside Casemiro were just drastic. It'd been spotted in pre-season as well, in some of those matches. It's something which has happened repeatedly for eight or nine months - they've just not been able to shake it off.

"It's pretty obvious Erik ten Hag is going to be judged on results in the last part of the season, and obviously getting into the Champions League spots is important. But there is going to be a demand, I suspect, on performance levels - and feeling like the club is going in the right direction on the pitch.

"When the performance levels are like this, so inconsistent, and at times during games really poor, you're going to lose games. It's a big problem for the manager."

United in the 'lap of the Gods' vs Man City

Live Super Sunday

Man Utd head to rivals Manchester City on Sunday, live on Sky Sports at 3.30pm, and Neville is hoping Ten Hag's side come out with some "respect".

"The result on Saturday was a bad one but they're still daft enough to go and hunt down Aston Villa and Tottenham for a Champions League place. They're so unpredictable and difficult to watch at times," said Neville.

"If they'd beaten Fulham, they'd have been right on the tails of Tottenham. Next Sunday against Manchester City became a bit of a free hit given the number of points they'd accrued.

"Now, they're in the lap of the Gods in the hope that United come out with some respect. You just hope they don't get done good. I hope we compete and it's close but it's a long way in your mind thinking we're going to win there.

"It's the thought process - how do we win this game - that I've always had as a fan but it's getting further away from part of the thought process right now."

Carra explains where Man Utd are going wrong

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Jamie Carragher and Gael Clichy believe that Manchester United are trying to do too much defensively, which has left them vulnerable in too many games this season

Jamie Carragher explained to Monday Night Football why recent results have masked the problems with Man Utd's system, which has left them so susceptible defensively even when winning games.

Since Ten Hag joined the club in 2022, United have faced 20 or more shots in a Premier League game 12 times - already double that of Man City and Liverpool under Guardiola and Klopp, despite the pair having spent a combined 13 years longer with their clubs.

Man Utd have faced 20 shots or more on 12 occasions under Erik ten Hag
Image: Man Utd have faced 20 shots or more on 12 occasions under Erik ten Hag

This season alone, Ten Hag has watched his side face 16 or more shots on 14 different occasions, a tally matched only by Luton and Sheffield United, who both sit in the relegation zone.

Carragher said: "Over the last few weeks, Manchester United have been in great form but still the underlying numbers have been really poor.

"They've been very fortunate, so we're not talking about them now just because they lost to Fulham.

"It's about performance. They defend like a team I've never seen before. They like to press high with a deep block.

"It's impossible. They like to do two things at the same time. You can only do one or the other.

"We're all pressing high or we're all defending deep. They're trying to do both."

Man Utd have faced at least 16 shots on 14 occasions
Image: Man Utd have faced at least 16 shots on 14 occasions

Issue one: Lack of understanding?

Carragher said: "I've chosen clips against Fulham, but I could have chosen clips from where they've won games like against Aston Villa. It's still the same problem.

"I want to highlight a problem from the very kick-off. If I highlight Kobbie Mainoo, this is not a criticism of him, it's more of what are his instructions before the game?

"He's not sure if he should be looking after the holding midfielder or watching the No 10. He's caught in between.

Kobbie Mainoo was caught between two roles
Image: Kobbie Mainoo was caught between two roles

"It's straight from the kick-off. You should know your job from kick-off. That's down to the coaching staff.

"You can see the big problem then had just 20 seconds into the game against Fulham. It's been the problem for Manchester United all season.

"They've shown they're a poor side at handling counter-attacks. They've got no pace at the back and they've got a lack of legs in midfield."

United's midfield area was gutted inside 20 seconds
Image: United's midfield area was gutted inside 20 seconds

Issue two: Positional problems in possession

Carragher added: "Another big problem for them is when they've got the ball. Some people say there's no patterns of play with Manchester United.

"What's their philosophy? I tell you one of the reasons why there's no patterns of play and another reason why they get done on the counter-attack... Look at the positions the players find themselves in when Raphael Varane is on the ball.

"You look where the right-back is [Diogo Dalot] and he can't receive a pass. Mainoo is on the last line. His position can't be right. Bruno Fernandes, your No 10 is playing like a striker, and on the other side, Victor Lindelof can't receive the ball.

Casemiro's passing avenues were closed off
Image: Raphael Varane's passing avenues were closed off

"It leads to a turnover and how many times have you seen Manchester United players having to run 40 yards back to their own goal this season?

"Look at the ones who are sprinting. The ones who took up wrong positions. Dalot, Mainoo, Bruno Fernandes and Lindelof. They're sprinting 30, 40, 50 yards five or six times in a game - hence why they get so many injuries in a game.

Manchester United players sprinting back again
Image: Manchester United players were forced to sprint back when Casemiro lost the ball

"With Fulham's winning goal, we see that Marcus Rashford won't run while Harry Maguire and Christian Eriksen can't run. That's a massive problem for them."

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