Three of Manchester United’s 25 managers have won the title and it will be remarkable if the Dutchman makes that four
Already, it feels, we have reached the stage of the cycle at which Erik ten Hag is being discussed in historical terms. The precise details have ceased to matter – where did Raphaël Varane disappear to in the autumn? What’s Bruno Fernandes really upset about? How can André Onana, a goalkeeper who specialises in pushing up behind a high line, so often be caught too deep? Does anybody remember Jadon Sancho? – and Manchester United’s manager has become just another chapter in the increasingly lengthy post‑Ferguson malaise.
Ten Hag is the 25th manager in United’s history. He looks almost certain to be the 22nd to have failed to win the league. Perhaps Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a quarter of the club, assuming it is eventually completed, will spark a remarkable turnaround and Ten Hag can join Ernest Mangnall, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby as a league champion, but it doesn’t seem likely any time soon – and the indications are Ratcliffe is already considering replacements. It may not be much consolation, either to him or United, but Ten Hag is far from alone in finding the club beyond his horsemanship.