Soccer

Erik ten Hag has ‘strong belief’ that he has Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s backing

The Dutchman’s future at Old Trafford is the subject of intense speculation.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe outside Old Trafford
Sir Jim Ratcliffe outside Old Trafford Sir Jim Ratcliffe outside Old Trafford (Peter Byrne/PA)

Erik ten Hag insists he does not need a public vote of confidence from Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Speculation has been rife about the future of the Dutchman as Manchester United manager following investment in the club from Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group.

A promising run of results ended with a poor performance in defeat against Fulham last weekend, putting the focus back on Ten Hag’s position.

Erik ten Hag is confident he has the backing of the Manchester United hierarchy
Erik Ten Hag applauds Erik ten Hag is confident he has the backing of the Manchester United hierarchy (Mike Egerton/PA)

That will ratchet up again should United fail to beat Nottingham Forest on Wednesday in the FA Cup, which is their only remaining chance of silverware this season.

Ten Hag said: “I’m here, I’m under contract for three seasons, so I don’t care. I’m only focusing on the process so I don’t care what’s going around me.

“I have many talks with Jim Ratcliffe but especially also with Sir Dave Brailsford so I know what we are talking about. I have a strong belief and I feel that they believe in me.

“I’m just focusing on the team and I have to find solutions for this team that they perform in the best way they can. It’s all about focusing on this and don’t get distracted by any noise.

“We’re talking about the future, we’re talking about a future together.”

Ten Hag’s tactics and recruitment have attracted criticism, with the performances of Brazil winger Antony particularly under the spotlight.

The 24-year-old cost more than £80million when he followed Ten Hag from Ajax to Old Trafford in 2022 but he has been a peripheral figure this season, with his only goal coming against Newport in the FA Cup.

Against Fulham, teenager Omari Forson started on the right and Amad Diallo was also sent on ahead of Antony, who only came off the bench in the 89th minute.

Antony took a leave of absence earlier in the season to address allegations of domestic abuse in Brazil, which he denied, and Ten Hag believes that had an effect on his form.

Antony has struggled for form this season
Manchester United v West Ham United – Premier League – Old Trafford Antony has struggled for form this season (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Now he left this behind but for a moment in the season it had absolutely an impact on him and you could see in his performance, in his attitude,” said the United boss.

“But now he’s back. Of course it affected him and the process is still going, now he has to turn the point and to bring his big potential again in.

“You have to fight and you have to give every day the maximum. I see in the training he’s doing (that) so he will turn a corner.

“When the issue was in Brazil, he came back and he wasn’t any more the person like he was before, and that did something with his belief.

“One of the big skills from Antony is that he’s very brave. He has to find that back and that’s up to him. We will support him, absolutely all the staff, me as a manager. I have 100 per cent belief in him.”