Manchester United, Gareth Southgate and the prospect of history repeating itself with Erik ten Hag

Manchester United, Gareth Southgate and the prospect of history repeating itself with Erik ten Hag

WATCH NOW: Sports round-up with Manchester United being linked with Gareth Southgate

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 24/03/2024

- 08:00

The England boss is being linked with a move to Old Trafford

Earlier this week, a bombshell report claimed Gareth Southgate was being eyed by Manchester United to replace Erik ten Hag at the end of the season.

However, while the 53-year-old has worked wonders during his time in charge of the England national team, any appointment at Old Trafford would raise eyebrows.

United, admittedly, have endured a frustrating season under Erik ten Hag so far.

It started with the chaos surrounding Mason Greenwood back in the summer, with Andre Onana blundering his way through his first few months at the club and Jadon Sancho then burning his bridges with Ten Hag by effectively calling his manager a liar.

Gareth Southgate

Manchester United are reportedly interested in appointing Gareth Southgate as their new manager


Yet Ten Hag, since the turn of the year, has started to get United fully firing once again.

They have lost just twice in 2024 so far. One defeat was against Fulham at home, while the other was against Pep Guardiola's unstoppable Manchester City side.

Certainly, there's no shame in losing to the latter.

Ten Hag deserved criticism for the way United performed at the start of the campaign. As manager, the responsibility for their abject performances lies at his door.

But he also deserves praise for the way the Red Devils have turned a corner to boost their chances of playing in the Champions League next season.

Marcus Rashford, ever since his controversial clubbing antics in Northern Ireland, has started to resemble the force he was 12 months ago.

Alejandro Garnacho's potential is off the charts, with the Argentina international arguably the club's player of the season.

And the way Kobbie Mainoo and Rasmus Hojlund have upped the ante has been impressive, too, with both stars still learning their trade.

Onana no longer makes anywhere near as many mistakes as before, while Diogo Dalot and Scott McTominay have delivered for Ten Hag when he's needed it the most.

Ten Hag knows United aren't where they should be, or what they should be. They remain a shadow of the team that dominated the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson, without a doubt.

But with the Red Devils starting to turn a corner, that gives Sir Jim Ratcliffe a decision to make.

Southgate has, as mentioned above, worked magic with England - even if they're yet to have a major trophy to show for their efforts.

But Ten Hag is, perhaps, deserving of one more year to prove what he's all about.

United previously opted to sack Louis van Gaal in 2016 despite winning the FA Cup under the charismatic Dutchman, with Jose Mourinho arriving as his replacement.

There was a sense at the time, however, that the Red Devils should have given Van Gaal one more year.

He played possession-based football and United, for the first time since Ferguson's retirement nearly 11 years ago, had a distinct style about them.

Van Gaal needed more time to help develop both Rashford and Anthony Martial, who were the two jewels in his crown at the time.


Manchester United Erik ten Hag

Manchester United seem to be turning a corner under Erik ten Hag after a difficult season at Old Trafford


Yet United, fully aware of the need to respond following City's decision to hire Pep Guardiola, then opted to bring in Mourinho instead.

There are also arguments that David Moyes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were sacked too suddenly, too.

Moyes arrived as Ferguson's replacement in 2013 and always needed time to truly make his mark.

Unfortunately for the Scot, United decided to give him just 10 months - despite Moyes penning a six-year contract.

And Solskjaer, speaking recently on The Overlap, insisted he'd have steered the Red Devils into the Champions League if he hadn't been axed in November 2021.

Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate moving to Manchester United would be a risk for all parties to take


Southgate has a proven track record of improving players. England's development over the past few years is proof of that.

But Ten Hag has started to get the Red Devils clicking and, once more players return from injury, has always stressed results and performances will improve further.

Given how he's evolving the young players such as Mainoo, Hojlund and Garnacho, he'll argue he's the right man to oversee their development.

What Ratcliffe ultimately decides remains to be seen - but Southgate to United would be one almighty risk.

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