Erik ten Hag’s position as Manchester United coach has not felt secure for pretty much the entirety of the 2023/24 season.
The Red Devils have so far stuttered through the Premier League campaign, were eliminated from the Carabao Cup and now also out of Europe entirely after finishing bottom of their Champions League group.
Many fans would like to see Ten Hag moved on, while others think the situation upstairs and the host of injuries mean he deserves the chance to dig Man Utd out of the latest hole they have dug for themselves.
Naturally, a host of names have been linked with the job should it become vacant, and one is former Chelsea and Brighton boss Graham Potter.
Potter’s reputation as a coach isn’t easy to gauge right now. He became extremely popular for the work he did at Brighton, where he was involved in unearthing young stars who did well in the Seagulls’ squad and then earned the club a lot of money through transfer sales.
While he alone cannot take sole credit for the signings, players like Tariq Lamptey, Kaoru Mitoma, Simon Adingra, Billy Gilmour, Julio Enciso, Leandro Trossard, Marc Cucurella, Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan arrived at Brighton while Potter was the coach.
He was able to work very effectively with both young and experienced players to create a team that not only played exciting, attacking football, but also got results.
It’s his time on the south coast that would really drive Man Utd to make a move for the Englishman, and there’s a reason why Chelsea wanted to get him on board for their new era under Todd Boehly.
However, Potter’s seven-month spell at Chelsea went horrendously. He took over from Thomas Tuchel in September 2022 but had lost the job by April, winning just 12 of the 31 games of his tenure.
In defence of Potter – and this may be Man Utd’s thinking, too – that Chelsea team was unlikely to succeed regardless of the coach. Eight new players were added to an already bloated Blues squad, making the team even more disjointed and near impossible to find a steady core.
That time at Chelsea has to be considered when Man Utd make a decision, but there are plenty of benefits from his Brighton days to suggest he can be a success at a big club. While Man Utd is hardly a steady work environment either, Potter managed to end up at the only big Premier League team where things were and arguably remain even more chaotic.
As reported by 90min, Potter wants to get back into coaching in 2024 and has turned down previous offers to take over at Lyon in France and Leicester City in the Championship.
Should Man Utd move on from Ten Hag, Potter’s is a name they should be considering. He isn’t a high-profile choice, but big appointments have seldom worked at Man Utd.
The other element to consider here is that Man Utd are not definitely sacking Ten Hag. The club and coach find themselves in a confusing and unusual position.
While results have been very bad, Ten Hag has credit in the bank from a very good first season in charge of the Red Devils. While the mass of injuries is a genuine factor to consider when assessing his performance, the Dutchman has effectively been without a whole starting XI throughout the early stages of the 2023/24 season.
Coming into the match against Liverpool on Sunday, Man Utd could be without Victor Lindelof, Marcus Rashford, Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Anthony Martial as well as the suspended Bruno Fernandes. You only need a goalkeeper and you’ve got a starting lineup there.
That can help to explain the results on the pitch, but there is also the ownership issue to bring into the equation. Is there anyone in role to sack Ten Hag and hire Potter or another coach?
INEOS’ 25% stake in the club is yet to be officially confirmed and Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to have the power when it comes to the sporting side of the operation. With that deal dragging on, it would take a huge amount for someone at Man Utd to pull the trigger on Ten Hag at this stage.
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