The clock is ticking for Ten Hag at United as their dismal run goes on

Man United’s mounting problems: A growing injury list, their never-ending takeover and off-the-field issues that’ve shrouded club in controversy… now after a woeful start to the season, the clock’s ticking on Ten Hag’s tenure

  • Erik ten Hag is facing an ever-growing list of issues as Manchester United boss
  • Issues on and off the field are making life difficult and questions are being asked
  • Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here

Managing Manchester United is one of the most difficult jobs in football and Erik ten Hag knows that all to well given what he’s got on his plate at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman is struggling to catch a break with issues both on and off the pitch engulfing the club.

United’s 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace was met by a chorus of boss by the Old Trafford crowd, with the result seeing the side match an unwanted record that almost lost Sir Alex Ferguson his job as boss in 1989.

If it feels like it can go wrong at United it likely will go wrong and the problems just continue to mount in what has been a woeful start to the campaign.

United’s season was already marred by issues just as it got going, with the whole furore surrounding Mason Greenwood’s saga – that hung over the club for 19 months – dominating the agenda until he got his deadline day loan move to Getafe.

Erik ten Hag is feeling the heat at Manchester United after four defeats in seven in the league

Issues on and off the field are making life difficult and patience is running thin at Old Trafford

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However, United and Ten Hag were dragged straight back into another domestic abuse controversy involving Antony.

The Brazilian was placed on paid leave last month as he returned home to fight allegations of assault made against him, which he has steadfastly refused.

The 23-year-old was questioned by Greater Manchester Police on Thursday over allegations that he attacked his girlfriend Gabriela Cavallin – which he strongly denies – and was allowed to go home without any restrictions.

Antony has since returned to the club and was present at Old Trafford on Saturday to watch his team-mates from the stands following his return to training. 

United issued a statement announcing Antony’s return before Ten Hag’s press conference on Friday, and the Dutchman said: ‘We make the statement so I refer to the statement, everything has been made clear in the statement. No, I don’t think it’s a distraction. We will focus on the games. He will do as well.

‘On Saturday, he will be back in training, so tomorrow. I have to see, but I think, yeah (he’s fit).’

Manchester United winger Antony (right) has been pictured back in training with the squad

Antony was present at Old Trafford to watch his team-mates vs Crystal Palace from the stands

The issues at ring wing grew further when Ten Hag became embroiled in spat with Jadon Sancho, claiming after their defeat by Arsenal last month that the Englishman had been left out of the match-day squad because the winger had not trained well in the lead-up to the clash.

Sancho called the claims ‘completely untrue’ in a lengthy social media post that evening, writing: ‘Please don’t believe everything you read!

‘I will not allow people saying things that is completely untrue. I have conducted myself in training very well this week.

‘I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t get into, I’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair!’

Sancho has since deleted the post from social media but refused to back down and apologise for the post, leaving Ten Hag to exile him from the first-team squad and banish him from using the first team’s facilities at Carrington.

Jadon Sancho (right) was seen at Carrington for the first time since feud with Ten Hag after posing for a photo with Kobbie Mainoo (left) and a fan (Credit: Instagram @jacob_manunited)

Sancho has not featured in a United squad since August after a public feud with the Dutchman 

Sancho has been made to train on his own at the academy facilities at Carrington after accusing Ten Hag of lying about the reasons behind his absence at Arsenal last month

The off-the-field issues have not been helped by the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the club.

United, which are currently owned by the American Glazer family, was put up for sale in November, with the two front-runners – Sheikh Jassim and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe – both submitting offers for a total takeover at Old Trafford in the region of £5billion. 

However, Mail Sport revealed on Monday that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is considering ditching his bid to takeover United in favour of buying a minority stake – which would leave the Glazer family in control of the club. 

In a shock move that would no doubt trigger outrage among many of United’s supporters, the petrochemicals billionaire is mulling over a change of tack in an attempt to break the deadlock in what has been a tedious process which is now approaching its tenth month. 

A spokesperson for Ratcliffe declined to comment, but it is understood that one of the options being looked at is the purchase of around 25 per cent of United’s shares. 

Mail Sport reported in September that the Joel and Avram Glazer, who head up the ownership, were set to take the club off the market. 

And This saw United’s stock plunge by 21 per cent as the New York Stock Exchange reacted to the report, but neither Ratcliffe nor Sheikh Jassim were informed about the sale being off – although they are yet to hear a further update. 

While there’s confusion surrounding the club’s future, Old Trafford is in dire need or repairs while upgrading facilities are sorely needed.

The club’s never-ending takeover is not helping matters for Ten Hag, with no end to it in sight

A full redevelopment on the stadium has been on the cards for several years, but it remains to be seen when work will begin, with the complexities involved compounded by the club’s potential sale.

Ten Hag has plenty of issues to deal with off the pitch but he’s also struggling to cope with them on the field.

Injuries have plagued United’s campaign this season, with their latest blow seeing Lisandro Martinez ruled out for the foreseeable ahead of a second operation on his broken metatarsal.

United revealed on Friday that Martinez will be out of action for up to three months due to a recurrence of the problem that ruled him out at the end of last season.

Mail Sport exclusively revealed on Sunday that the Argentina defender will have further surgery on the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Monday in a bid to cure the problem once and for all.

United’s injury list continues to grow with Lisandro Martinez ruled out for three months

The Argentinian defender was forced off in the defeat at Arsenal at the start of September but played through the pain in games against Brighton and Bayern Munich

Ten Hag has seen a number of his first team squad fall foul to injuries, with Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all on the sidelines.

But while Ten Hag has had a lot to keep on top of, recent results are starting to speak for themselves – and loudly at that.

The defeat by Palace was United’s third in their last four Premier League games, and the fans are beginning to get restless.

United were lucky to beat Wolves in their opening league game and were two down inside four minutes against Nottingham Forest before coming back to win. 

Now back-to-back league defeats at home by Brighton and Palace followed a devastating last-minute defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates have left the club languishing in 10th, with the spotlight now well and truly on Ten Hag to stop the rot.

They now have two home games before the international break — against Galatasaray and then Brentford on Saturday — with two victories sure to help get United back on track in both competitions. 

Joachim Andersen scored a sumptuous winner for Palace to cap off a dismal run of results

Their defeat on Saturday against Palace saw United once again beaten at home

It’s their worst start to a league campaign in 34 years – and now the clock is ticking for Ten Hag

But further defeats will only leave the club in a perilous position.

Their opening group game defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League only raised more fears that they won’t compete for the highest honours given they spent £180million this season and have already been beaten by top-four rivals Arsenal and Tottenham and now look to be going backwards.

The clock is well and truly ticking on Ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford.

He may have matched Sir Alex’s worst start to a league campaign in 34 years but like the legendary Scot, he’ll be hoping that history can repeat itself and save his United career.


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