The INEOS sporting team are expected to announce their decision on the future of Erik ten Hag in February amid claims that Champions League qualification remains a priority this season.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake ownership bid – which will include INEOS assuming full control over the football operation at Old Trafford – is currently being analysed by the Premier League as part of the regulatory approval process.
Ratification of Ratcliffe’s position as Manchester United’s new co-owner is likely to be granted in “early February”, according to The Athletic. Until this point, the British billionaire and his sporting team are legally constrained in terms of what they can reveal publicly and what they can do at Old Trafford.
However, once he gains approval, a host of comprehensive changes are expected to be initiated throughout the club.
One such example has already taken place, with Omar Berrada poached from local rivals Manchester City to be United’s new chief executive. Similarly, a new sporting director and a head of recruitment are likely to join Berrada, as part of an overhaul at the executive level.
These are moves with next season and beyond in mind, however. The Athletic contends INEOS are still maintaining a laser focus on this season, with “no sense” they are writing off the club’s prospects.
Laurie Whitwell reveals Ratcliffe and his team “want United to qualify for the Champions League” as Europe’s premier competition is the club’s expected home. INEOS have made no qualms about their demands of success at United; they will be uninterested in the Europa League while its big brother remains a possibility.
Money is another driving factor.
Qualification will “help significantly with financial fair play calculations” which are severely hampering United’s flexibility in the January market. Whitwell indicates this financial pressure is why the club have been exploring loan deals, rather than any permanent transfers. He references “loan approaches” for Matthijs de Ligt and Eric Choupo-Moting as evidence of this “tightness on numbers.”
There is also expected to be a public announcement on the manager’s future in February.
Whitwell reveals INEOS executives are “expected to speak publicly” on a host of topics after the approval process is confirmed. This will include “the future of…Erik ten Hag.”
The Dutchman has spoken of how much he is “looking forward” to working with the INEOS team with early reports suggesting they plan to “stand by” the manager in the short term. A comprehensive audit of the processes and structures at Old Trafford will take place – led by Sir Dave Brailsford – designed to improve every level of an underperforming institution.
Only after this analysis is complete will INEOS make a more permanent decision on their long-term manager, be it Ten Hag or a replacement. However, the Dutchman will need his team to make drastic improvements in the coming months to convince his new employers he is the right man for the job.