The Glazers are involved in the decision to keep or sack Erik ten Hag

The Glazers are involved in the decision to keep or sack Erik ten Hag
The Glazers are involved in the decision to keep or sack Erik ten Hag

Three words in an update on Erik ten Hag’s future by transfer guru Fabrizio Romano this morning may explain what has been puzzling every Manchester United fan on the planet: why Ineos are taking so long to decide whether to keep or dismiss the manager.

Ineos took over football operations at United after acquiring a 25% stake in the club in December.

Reports from reliable sources such as Gianluca di Marzio claimed that the decision had already been made months ago to sack Ten Hag, while others such as David Ornstein said the decision would be made at an end of season following the FA Cup final.

Since then, tumbleweed has blown across the corridors of power at Old Trafford and fans have been left scratching their heads wondering what could possibly be taking so long and why would the club be robbing any new coach of this precious time to get his feet under the desk and get to work ahead of the new season.

One of the hallmarks and frustrations of direct Glazer ownership was dithering and delays in making decisions, particularly on the part of co-chairman Joel Glazer, who was renowned for micro-managing everything and taking for ever to make decisions.

Ineos was supposed to be an antidote to that.

In this morning’s Daily Briefing, Romano provided an update on the situation, saying:

“This weekend is a very intense one behind the scenes at Man United, despite things being very quiet around the future of Erik ten Hag. However, many things are happening.

“I’m told that Man United are still talking to the representatives of other managers as the future of Ten Hag is still not safe as of right now.

“The Manchester club are yet to make a decision on their Dutch coach and are taking their time to make sure they make the right move.

“There are many people involved in this, including the board and the new co-owners.

“The situation is still 50/50 as we wait for Manchester United to make their final decision.”

And it is those three words, “including the board”, that sets Glazer red lights flashing.

If the board is involved in this decision, then Ineos clearly do not have complete control over footballing matters.

The press announcement for the takeover stated that:

“As part of the transaction, INEOS has accepted a request by the Board to be delegated responsibility for the management of the Club’s football operations. This will include all aspects of the men’s and women’s football operations and Academies, alongside two seats on the Manchester United PLC board and the Manchester United Football Club boards.”

We all assumed this gives Ineos free rein, but if Romano is right, then it seems that board sign-off is still required for some decisions, or at least, for this particular decision.

And since Ineos only have two seats on the board, they cannot control the decision.

The PLC boards and football club boards are different beasts and Romano does not say which is involved in the Ten Hag decision. But assuming it is the football club board, this means that Joel, Avram, Darcie, Bryan, Edward and Kevin Glazer, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Gill, long-term non-executive board member Michael Edelson, Patrick Stewart (who will leave his post at the end of the month), Jean-Claude Blanc and Sir Dave Brailsford comprise the twelve current members.

Stewart is a Glazer man – appointed in 2006 – so his presence until the end of the month would logically mean that Glazer votes have the majority at seven to five. The Glazers, then, could block any decision Ineos may have made to sack or keep Ten Hag.

We have heard stories this week that Sir Jim Ratcliffe would rather “walk toward the right decision than run toward the wrong one” and that is why the decision is taking so long. Yet it has been hard to shake the feeling that one of the richest men in Britain would have decided on the crucial manager position weeks, if not months ago.

It does not make sense that Ineos would still be deliberating. It does, however, make perfect sense that the Glazers would be. This whole situation reeks of Joel.

The balance of power would, of course, shift slightly when Stewart steps down at the end of this month, but the six Glazers would still outnumber the five other members. It may be that Joel and his siblings will get around to supporting Ineos’ proposal to either sack or retain Ten Hag in their own good time, or it may be that Ineos just simply won’t be able to push through their biggest major decision at the club so far.

Whatever the case, it would seem that if Romano is right, United fans are still not completely free of Glazer involvement in their football club’s business. It remains to be seen what other decisions may need board sign-off and how much this will tie Ineos’ hands behind their backs as they attempt to revive the flailing football giants.

Want to be the first to hear breaking Man United news? For carefully selected, crucial updates, join our WhatsApp channel: