Erik ten Hag 'does not care' about speculation over his Manchester United future

England manager Gareth Southgate has been linked with taking over at Premier League club

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag celebrates with Alejandro Garnacho after beating Liverpool in the FA Cup. Getty Images
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Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag insists he is not bothered by speculation regarding his future at the club.

The Dutchman enjoyed a promising first season in charge at Old Trafford that saw them win the League Cup and finish third in the Premier League.

But his second campaign has proven more problematic with United currently sixth in the league – 12 points outside the top four – while their European campaign was over in December after the club finished bottom of their Champions League group.

New co-owners Ineos are currently conducting a full audit of the club as they look to bring fresh bring fresh impetus to a club that has not won the Premier League since 2013.

Recent reports have linked current England manager Gareth Southgate with Ten Hag's role with the Englishman this week branding speculation “completely disrespectful” to the Dutchman.

United's likely next sporting director Dan Ashworth became England's director of elite development in 2013, the same time Southgate had been named manager of the Under-21 team.

Ashworth, who has agreed to join United but has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle as the two clubs attempt to thrash out a deal, has described Southgate as “an exceptional leader” who has “a really good understanding of getting the best out of the players and staff”.

Dave Brailsford, who holds a key position alongside Jim Ratcliffe at United in his role as Ineos' director of sport, is also an admirer of Southgate.

Erik ten Hag: 'Ineos want to work with me and I want to work with them'

Erik ten Hag: 'Ineos want to work with me and I want to work with them'

Ten Hag, though, says that he is used to speculation about his job. “You know when you are working at Man United there will always be noise, rumours around the club, the manager, the players, whatever,” he said ahead of Saturday's Premier League game at Brentford.

“You [the media] like it to talk about [speculation], but of course we have different interests, but we are not focusing on that. We are focusing on the process to make the team play better, to improve the way of playing.

“I was trainer at Ajax. Similar. You get used to it, so we don’t care. Players don’t care, I don’t care. We are together in the boat and we know we have to perform and get the right results.”

United went into the recent international break on a high after a dramatic 4-3 quarter-final extra-time win against rivals Liverpool and will take on second-tier Coventry City in the last four.

Before the Liverpool win, one of the only positives in a forgettable season was the development of young players such as Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Hojlund and Kobbie Mainoo.

The latter was named man of the match on his full England debut against Belgium on Tuesday, just four months after making his first Premier League start.

Ten Hag had planned Mainoo’s opportunity to come far sooner, only for the midfielder to sustain ankle ligament damage in July’s pre-season friendly against Real Madrid.

“It was the plan, it was the intention,” the Dutchman said. “We thought he was capable of adjusting very quickly to high levels, so we had to delay that moment but for him and for us it’s good.

“Later in the season he proved that he can contribute highly to our team.

“We are happy we have a player like him who can really contribute and make us play the way we want to play.”

Ten Hag is hoping Mainoo is available to face Brentford having reported sick on Thursday. “He skipped training because he was ill,” he said.

“I don’t know [about Brentford] but of course we hope. Today he is there, not fully recovered but we have still many hours I would say as we have a kick-off at 8pm.”

Mainoo’s performances have bolstered his chances of making England’s Euro 2024 squad but teammate Marcus Rashford’s position looks more precarious.

“Of course he knows there is a lot of competition in his position,” Ten Hag said. “And of course he will have a lot of credit because he contributes so many times fantastically for England and for us.

“Of course, he wants to be there but also he wants to win with us. He is in a position to win a trophy and he wants to be in the Champions League.

“Absolutely he wants to contribute and he wants to perform.”

Updated: March 30, 2024, 7:23 AM