EPL

Neville expects Man Utd manager announcement in a 'week or so' amid reports of Ten Hag talks

By Sports Desk March 23, 2022

Gary Neville believes Manchester United will make an announcement on a new manager in a "week or so" following reports the club has met with Ajax boss Erik ten Hag.

The Red Devils have been looking for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's permanent successor since appointing Ralf Rangnick in charge on an interim basis back in November.

Dutchman Ten Hag has been frequently linked to the post, alongside Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Now, Neville anticipates that the club could be closing in on their preferred candidate.

"Reports [suggest] Ten Hag has been interviewed this week," the former United defender wrote on Twitter.

"If formal interviews have started and with it being such a public process I would expect a new manager announcement within a week or so."

United are hiring their third permanent manager in the space of six years, following Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer's tenures in the top job.

Since taking the reins, Rangnick has won nine of his 20 games in charge at Old Trafford, but has been unable to prevent the club from going another season empty handed.

Ajax boss Ten Hag meanwhile is on course to lead the Eredivisie outfit to a third successive league title (the 2019-20 season was voided due to the coronavirus pandemic). They have just three top-flight losses this season and lead PSV by two points in the table.

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  • Rasmus Hojlund set to miss Manchester derby with muscle injury Rasmus Hojlund set to miss Manchester derby with muscle injury

    Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund is due to miss next weekend’s derby against Manchester City after suffering a muscle injury in a significant blow for manager Erik ten Hag.

    The in-form 21-year-old, who had scored seven goals in his last six appearances for United, will sit out Saturday’s Premier League match against Fulham and Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest.

    United said the Denmark international is expected to miss two to three weeks, a timeframe that would also rule him out of the trip to the Etihad Stadium a week on Sunday.

    “It’s a small injury, two to three weeks,” Ten Hag said in Friday’s press conference. “That’s what happened, that is the risk playing high intensity, training. It’s not a big injury but he has to wait now for two, three weeks.”

    Hojlund’s injury – which comes in the same week that Luke Shaw was ruled out for several months – leaves Ten Hag short of options in attack with Anthony Martial already sidelined until April following a groin operation and it is likely that Marcus Rashford will be asked to play in a central role.

    Ten Hag was speaking for the first time since Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a minority stake in the club was ratified and after the billionaire gave a wide-ranging interview in midweek in which he laid out ambitious plans to knock the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool “off their perch”.

    Ten Hag said he and Ratcliffe, whose Ineos group have taken control of footballing operations following the deal, are on the same page.

    “We speak a lot, we have many conversations with him and with Dave Brailsford (Ineos director of sport) about this club, about the team about the structures,” he said. “We are very aligned. Their ambitions fit with the ambitions I have, with the ambitions I had when I came in.

    “We are in that project now. For me, I’m 18, 19 months in and I see (things) go in the right direction. We had setbacks in the second season but you see the team coming, you see the squad progressing and developing.”

    And the Dutchman denied that he would find himself under increased pressure given the expectations that Ratcliffe will have for the club. United have won four in a row in the league but remain five points adrift of the top four.

    “No more pressure because we have the same ambition, we have the same targets,” Ten Hag said. “I see the process and I see this team is developing, it’s progressing.

    “I see we have now also the right age across the squad, we can make that even stronger and they will grow and we will do everything in our power. There is strong competition and there are reasons behind it.

    “We still have to catch up in the moment where every game is a final for us because we have to be in the Champions League. The players want this, the team want this but we have to believe.”

    Injuries, however, could be the thing that derails United’s bid to break into the top four.

    Hojlund and Shaw have joined an injury list that already includes Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Mason Mount and Tyrell Malacia.

    “Of course that is an issue but other clubs have this and we have to deal with this,” Ten Hag said. “I feel we can deal with it better but still it’s an issue with the depth of the squad, and the squad have to prove it.”

  • Xavi warns Barcelona players of the threat posed by ‘brave’ Getafe Xavi warns Barcelona players of the threat posed by ‘brave’ Getafe

    Xavi is not expecting Getafe to sit back at Camp Nou when they face his Barcelona side on Saturday.

    Nothing else but three points will do for Barca if they are to keep their flagging La Liga title hopes alive, as they trail their bitter rivals Real Madrid by eight points with 13 games to go.

    Xavi, who will leave his position as head coach at the end of the season after a difficult campaign, does not think a win will be easily achieved by his team against a Getafe side who occupy 10th spot.

    “Getafe are not a defensive team, they are a brave team,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

    “They press very high up the pitch and they have picked up points at some tricky away grounds. They always compete and (coach Jose) Bordalas always gets the most out of his players, and that is worthy of praise.

    “The points are very important for the battle for the league title. As long as we are mathematically involved, we will fight for it. Each week is a different story. We can’t drop points, less so at home.

    “We would go to be in second place in the table (above Girona) and that will put more pressure on Girona and Real Madrid, who play later. We are not throwing in the towel, even though we know that it will be tough.”

    Barcelona come into the match after a 1-1 draw away to Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday.

    “We will see how we come into the game, but it is the moment for the best players,” Xavi added.

    “We will make some changes but not many, because it is a vital match. It would have been better to play on Sunday or Monday but that is no excuse.”

    Barcelona are without Alejandro Balde (hamstring), who is sidelined for the rest of the season, while Marcos Alonso remains unavailable due to lower back pain, which has meant Joao Cancelo being forced to play at left-back.

    “He is playing very well both on the left and on the right, his contribution is fantastic,” Xavi said about Cancelo.

    “The instructions I give him are because sometimes he plays too high or too low. Also because he is closer to the bench for me (to communicate with). But he is a leader too, we are very happy with him.”

  • Campaigners highlight the need for football to have ‘the right regulator’ Campaigners highlight the need for football to have ‘the right regulator’

    Campaigners say it will be “unacceptable” if football’s independent regulator does not have the power to revisit any deal struck between the Premier League and the EFL.

    The EFL’s chairman Rick Parry told MPs last month that his organisation was prepared to do a deal with the Premier League but stressed that the “right solution” on financial distribution and cost controls would only be reached through independent analysis by the regulator once it was up and running.

    However, EFL clubs are understood to have been told by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer last week that the regulator will not have a mandate to review any deal that has been signed off, only ‘backstop powers’ to arbitrate if no deal is agreed.

    The EFL is still in talks with the Government and declined to comment, but the Fair Game group, which has 13 EFL groups within its membership, insisted the regulator must have the power to intervene.

    “The number one stated aim of the regulator is to secure the financial sustainability of the football pyramid,” Fair Game’s director of advocacy Mike Baker said in a statement issued on Friday.

    “So it is not about having any regulator, it’s about having the right regulator. The status quo is not acceptable. You only have to look at Everton, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday and right now the very futures of Rochdale and Torquay United hang in the balance.

    “The football authorities have failed to deliver a fairer financial flow for all of football. The EFL funds are split 80 per cent to the Championship, 12 per cent to League One and just eight per cent to League Two.

    “And for every £1,000 the game receives in broadcast revenue, £882 goes to the Premier League, £6.62 to League One and just 15p to the National League South.

    “Yet, the proposed backstop powers currently can only be triggered by the Premier League and the EFL authorities, and if a deal is signed now for six years the regulator will have no powers to correct it.

    “That is unacceptable. If the regulator is to achieve its core objectives then it must oversee football’s finances and reward well-run clubs. Anything else and we will have a regulator that lacks the teeth to fix football’s ills.”

    The deal under discussion is believed to be worth an additional £900million over six years to EFL clubs, but the EFL has strong misgivings over the cost control measures attached to it.

    While clubs in the Championship are expected to be capped at spending no more than 70 per cent of revenue on squad costs, in line with UEFA’s new financial sustainability regulations, those coming down to the second tier will be capped at 85 per cent while they are in receipt of parachute payments.

    That would mean those clubs being able to spend a greater percentage of a larger amount than non-parachute rivals. Parry believes that puts non-parachute clubs in the “horrendous” position of having to choose between being competitive and sustainable.

    Top-flight clubs are still to agree on how any extra funding for the EFL is paid for, and on a new financial system for the Premier League to ultimately replace its profitability and sustainability rules (PSR).

    Premier League clubs are due to gather for shareholder meetings on February 29 and March 11, with the latter understood to be the more likely to prove decisive in moving this issue forward.

    PA understands a number of EFL clubs, even those who had been inclined to agree to the deal, are feeling more hostile towards the process following the meeting with Frazer which some described as “a car crash”.

    Sources said clubs felt Frazer was applying pressure to agree to the deal, even though the ball remains in the Premier League’s court at this stage.

    Accrington owner Andy Holt wrote on X, formerly Twitter, last week: “It feels like a neutered regulator to suit the @premierleague backed by DCMS, which removes the reason for the regulator in the first place.

    “DCMS were telling us we need to accept a deal that we haven’t even seen or we might never get one, and crucially if that deal is accepted, the regulator will not be able to relook at it, EVEN IF it doesn’t resolve the structural problems of the pyramid. It feel like grubby deals of old.”

    Government sources have said Frazer’s position was misinterpreted and that she was advising clubs to do a deal, as has always been the Government’s position, not necessarily to accept the deal that was on the table.

    A publication date for the Football Governance Bill, which has the creation of the regulator at its heart, is still understood to be some weeks away after there had been indications it could be published on Monday next week.

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