Manchester United’s Ten Hag doesn’t care about guarantees

Erik ten Hag said he “doesn’t care” that new partial-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is yet to publicly confirm he will stay on as Manchester United manager next season.

The United coach has a contract at Old Trafford until 2025, but there has been speculation about his position after a poor season during which his team has slipped to sixth in the Premier League table.

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Ratcliffe’s 27.7% stake in the club was confirmed last week, but the British billionaire, 71, has stopped short of confirming Ten Hag will definitely be the manager next season.

However, the Dutchman insists it’s not a problem and says the new management team “believe” he’s the right man for the job.

Asked whether it would be beneficial for Ratcliffe to confirm he will stay on as manager, Ten Hag said: “I’m under contract for three seasons, so I don’t care.

“I am in this process, I’m only focusing on the process, so I don’t care what’s going on around me. I have many talks with Sir Jim Radcliffe, also with Sir Dave Brailsford and others in that group, so I know where we are talking about and I have a strong belief and I feel that they believe in me.”

Ratcliffe is planning a number of changes at United and has already poached Omar Berrada from Manchester City as the club’s new CEO. He has also made an approach for Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth and there remains interest in Southampton’s Jason Wilcox joining the recruitment team.

The moves have prompted suggestions that Ratcliffe and his team are keeping a watching brief on Ten Hag, but the 54-year-old said he doesn’t feel like he’s on trial.

“No, but I want to win every game,” he said. “I know I’m in a process, I know what I’m doing. As I just said, I’ve had many talks, consistently we have talks, and we’re talking about the future together.

“I focus on those two points — progressing the team in this moment and the next game, and to think about the future, and to do that in togetherness.”

A 2-1 loss to Fulham on Saturday left United eight points adrift of the top four — the places guaranteed to qualify for next season’s Champions League, and no United manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 has survived a full season without delivering a place in Europe’s elite club competition at the end of it, which has raised the prospect that Ten Hag could be replaced.

“I’m not focusing on my personal circumstances,” Ten Hag said. “I’m just focusing on the team and I have to find solutions for this team so that they perform in the best way they can. It’s all about focusing on that and don’t get distracted by any noise or whatever.

“If you talk about one defeat and the manager’s position is in discussion, I think it’s quite opportune after two months without a defeat. I can’t pick something from this, I can’t take it seriously. I have to stay focused again on the team and on the team’s performance.”

Man United face Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday, and despite the Saturday loss to Fulham, Ten Hag said the team has no plans of changing its approach.

“We were unbeaten in January and February and we lost one game. It was a poor performance and defeat, we are aware,” Ten Hag said. “We want to stay in every competition. We have to win tomorrow. It doesn’t change our approach — that is for every game.

“I look at today, we work on the team development and try to win every game. We look forward to the longer term.”