Erik ten Hag: Sacking me would show a lack of common sense

Manchester United's head coach Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag – a man under pressure - AP Photo/Ian Walton

Erik ten Hag has insisted he does not fear the same fate as Louis van Gaal at Manchester United and believes it would show a lack of “common sense” to sack him.

United have no intention of dismissing Ten Hag before the FA Cup final against Manchester City in just over a fortnight but the Dutchman is facing a very uncertain future after a torrid second season at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal was dismissed as United manager within 48 hours of winning the FA Cup against Crystal Palace in 2016 after a troubled second season when they also crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage and failed to finish in the top four.

But Ten Hag – whose eighth placed side face Premier League leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday and risk missing out on Europe entirely – does not believe he will get the same treatment as his fellow Dutchman because Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s and his Ineos team recognise the extent of the injury crisis that has derailed the campaign.

“No. I think they have common sense,” Ten Hag said. “They see when you have 32 different backlines, when you lose eight centre backs, when they see we use 13 different partnerships at centre-half, when we don’t have a left full back, when we have so many injuries.

“They know that will have a negative impact on results but still we are fighting and it’s a huge the FA Cup final.

“We are very happy to be there, it can still be a highlight for this season. Of course we are not happy but we know the reasons why we are underperforming in the ranking now and that of course is the injuries.

“I am a realistic person, I see this when I analyse and no team will perform when you have so many injuries in key areas.”

United have not offered Ten Hag any public assurances over his future. Asked if clarity from the owners would help end the uncertainty that has hung around Ten Hag and his team for months, the manager added: “This question: you have to make to the owners, not to me. Once again, you have to make this question - it is your opinion - and you have to make this question to them, not to me.

Christian Eriksen walks off the pitch after Man Utd lost to Crystal Palace
Man Utd endured a torrid 4-0 loss to Crystal Palace on Monday night - PA/Zac Goodwin

“That’s my job. I take responsibility for that to speak to you. That is why I am the manager - to give the answers. I don’t care if they do or they don’t, I’m working on improving and developing my team, that is my job here.”

United have suffered more injury setbacks ahead of the Arsenal game with Mason Mount again ruled out after his injury-plagued campaign took another turn for the worse. Mount was only seven games back from a four-month lay-off with a calf problem but now has a fresh issue. “It’s very unfortunate, very unlucky,” Ten Hag said.

Ten Hag said Luke Shaw had also suffered a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury and the left back is now facing a race to return this season.

The United manager does hope to have midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay back against Arsenal after both missed the wretched 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday. There will also be a late fitness test on striker Marcus Rashford to see if he can return.

Ten Hag revealed that Lisandro Martinez has asked to play against Arsenal but the manager said he felt the game had come too soon for the Argentina defender, who has not played since March 30 with a calf injury.

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