Does Erik Ten Hag deserve to be Manchester United manager next season?

Erik Ten Hag and Manchester United have had a tumultuous season but ending with an FA Cup win over bitter rivals Manchester City may have bought the Dutch manager some time.
Manchester City v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Final
Manchester City v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Final / Visionhaus/GettyImages

With the season officially over for Manchester United, and new owners INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe now at the helm, mass change can already be seen at the club. All members of staff have been asked to complete their contracted hours on the club's premises and a big summer is to be expected, in the transfer market but also in the general goings on at the club.

Erik Ten Hag's future is the main point of speculation currently. The day before United's FA Cup triumph, it was reported by The Guardian that the club's hierarchy had decided to sack the Dutchman after the final. The news caused uproar on social media with many fans questioning how the players and manager would respond and whether they would be able to focus.

The display that ensued against City was one of the best performances from United all season. Both the result and the manner of performance were brilliant and subsequently the noise around Ten Hag being sacked has died down.

The news of Ten Hag's fate being pre-determined may have been false to begin with, or the final may have changed the owners' minds, but either way Ten Hag looks set to stay on, at least in the short-term. But does he deserve to?

The Red Devils have had a poor season all things considered. From being knocked out of the Champions League in humiliating fashion to finishing eighth in the league, the season has been nothing to shout about. The FA Cup final was a joyous moment, but can it really outweigh everything else?

Ten Hag's justification for this campaign has been injury woes. Time and time again he has blamed injury problems and key players not being fit. There is of course truth in what he says, as United have suffered 45 separate injuries this season, the most in the league. Key players like Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane have all been injured for large parts of the season. Martinez alone has missed 214 days of the campaign due to injury.

Injuries have certainly been hugely debilitating, however they do not excuse everything. Two of United's most embarrassing results and performances this season were in the Champions League, at home in the 3-2 loss to Galatasaray and away in the 4-3 loss to FC Copenhagen. These two results were ultimately what knocked them out of Europe's premier competition. For each game, United had only one or two key injuries, yet were just nowhere near good enough performance-wise.

Throughout the season they have largely put together starting XI's that, whilst not exactly first choice, were good enough to get results, but they have failed to do so. Ten Hag has come under intense scrutiny due to the fact that he has been at the club for two years and there is still no recognisable trace of what he wants his team to look like. They do not play a particular way, they do not press a particular way. These are patterns that should be evident, regardless of any injuries.

The big decision now for INEOS is do they stick or twist. The fact that United have just won such a huge game and morale at the club and amongst supporters is high, paired with the state of the managerial market this summer may work in Ten Hag's favour. Bayern Munich have just appointed Vincent Kompany and Chelsea are close to confirming Enzo Maresca. There is a dearth of top managers available and with so much changing off the pitch at United, this may not be the best time to change manager.

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