Pictured: Sir Jim Ratcliffe meets Erik ten Hag as Man Utd manager insists ‘we are on same page’

All smiles at Carrington as Sir Jim Ratcliffe is greeted by Erik ten Hag
All smiles at Carrington as Sir Jim Ratcliffe (left) is greeted by Erik ten Hag - Getty Images

Erik ten Hag claims he is on “the same page” as Sir Jim Ratcliffe after the Ineos chairman and his team presented a number of their ideas to the Manchester United manager during lengthy talks this week.

Ratcliffe has been meeting players and staff at United – with images of the meetings emerging on Friday morning – during a four-day scoping exercise and spent several hours with Ten Hag on Wednesday discussing plans as he prepares to take complete control of football operations at Old Trafford.

The British billionaire’s arrival at United – subject to the Premier League ratifying his £1.03 billion deal for a 29 per cent stake in the club – has intensified the spotlight on Ten Hag after a miserable season in which United have lost 14 games and finished bottom of their Champions League group.

Ineos are expected to bring in a new director of football and potentially a head of recruitment and Sir Dave Brailsford, the group’s sporting director who has been on the ground with Ratcliffe at United this week, is likely to recommend other changes as part of his audit.

Sir Dave Brailsford joins Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Carrington
Sir Dave Brailsford (right) joined Ratcliffe at Carrington - Getty Images
Rasmus Hojlund (shakes hands with Sir Dave Brailsford
Rasmus Hojlund (right) shakes hands with Brailsford - Getty Images
Sir Jim Ratcliffe meets Katie Zelem and Leah Galton of Man Utd Women
Ratcliffe meets Katie Zelem (centre) and Leah Galton (right) of Man Utd Women - Getty Images
Man Utd Women star Aoife Mannion shakes hands with Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Man Utd Women star Aoife Mannion (left) shakes hands with Ratcliffe - Getty Images
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is greeted by long-serving receptionist Kath Phipps
Ratcliffe says hello to long-serving receptionist Kath Phipps - Getty Images
Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford watch the Man Utd players train
Ratcliffe and Brailsford watch the Man Utd players train - Getty Images

Ten Hag’s long-term position is understood to be vulnerable if there is not a dramatic improvement in results and performances, but the Dutchman expressed optimism about the future after sitting down with Ratcliffe for the first time this week.

“[It was] very positive, I have to say,” the United manager said. “We had a long meeting, so many hours we sit together. On many issues we were on the same page.

“So it was very positive from both sides. I can say that it was a very constructive meeting and we’re looking forward to working with each other.”

Asked whether Ineos explained any ideas they had for United, Ten Hag added: “They have given me a few so we have had our debates about our approaches, about our strategies and I think we will come together.”

Nonetheless, Ten Hag insisted it was still early days and that he would have to see how the integration process unfolded once the deal has the greenlight.

“I think it’s very [soon] and also we have to let it settle down, they’re just coming in, they’re introducing themselves, they have good ideas. We have to see what we can integrate, in togetherness we will work but after one day you can’t tell that.”

United cannot make any big football decisions without consulting Ineos during the transition process so the news that the club have triggered options in the contracts of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof and Hannibal Mejbri to extend their deals by 12 months until the end of next season is thought to have been run by Ratcliffe and his team.

Options on Martial and Varane not triggered

Anthony Martial grimaces
Anthony Martial is expected to leave as a free agent - Fran Santiago/Getty Images

It remains to be seen if United look to sell any of that trio in the summer, when Anthony Martial is expected to leave as a free agent assuming the France striker does not exit this month.

United have opted against triggering the option in Martial’s contract and that of Raphael Varane, who is now free to speak to foreign suitors this month as United discuss a new deal on reduced terms with the former Real Madrid defender. “We are talking with Rapha,” Ten Hag said.

Goalkeeper Andre Onana will be available to face Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup third round on Monday, when Ten Hag will still be without the likes of Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Mason Mount, none of whom are yet ready to return from injury. “I think we will have more or less the same squad as against Nottingham Forest,” Ten Hag said.

The FA Cup is the last piece of silverware realistically available to United this season after last Saturday’s dismal 2-1 defeat at Forest left Ten Hag’s side 14 points behind leaders Liverpool and nine points adrift of the top four.

Ten Hag said he could not yet confirm that Onana would be available for the league game at home to Tottenham on Sunday week but it is understood the goalkeeper will be free to play after the Cameroonian Football Federation agreed to his delayed release for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Cameroon are due to play Guinea in their opening match at the tournament 24 hours after United play Spurs meaning Onana could end up playing two games in as many days.

“We’re talking with the Cameroon Federation,” Ten Hag said. “It was an issue during the talks with Andre when he came in here. It’s constructive. We will see. I don’t know yet [about Spurs] but he will be there for the game against Wigan.”

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