One Erik ten Hag staff member given ring-fence protection amid Manchester United cull

Steve McClaren is expected to survive the anticipated Manchester United clear-out that could see Erik ten Hag and the rest of his backroom staff ousted at the end of the season.

The former England coach, who returned to Old Trafford when Ten Hag took over as United boss in the summer of 2022, has a longstanding professional relationship with INEOS chief Sir David Brailsford.

Brailsford will be instrumental in deciding whether new United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe allows Ten Hag to fulfil the final year of his contract after a disastrous season at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag’s extensive coaching team would also bear the brunt of the failure – but McClaren is seen as someone INEOS can continue to collaborate with under any new managerial regime.

The 63-year-old struck up a friendship with Brailsford during his tenure at Derby a decade ago. He invited the cycling expert to share his philosophy of marginal gains and his success in transforming Great Britain into the world’s leading nation in the sport with his Rams’ squad, reports the Mirror.

The pair found they had several similar ideas on sports science, psychology and methods to enhance athletes.

It was McClaren’s innovative approach that led Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him on board as his assistant in 1999, a pivotal move ahead of United clinching the unprecedented Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup Treble. His expertise was later shared with Erik ten Hag during their time at FC Twente in the Netherlands.

McClaren is often regarded as a reliable figure within the club, and there were whispers he might step in for Ten Hag in the season’s closing matches, but Ratcliffe has chosen to keep faith in the Dutchman with the FA Cup final on the horizon.

Ex-United striker Michael Owen has even suggested that McClaren’s influence on the current team’s performance is minimal. “We’ve played under Steve McClaren. There’s no way his fingerprints are anywhere near that team,” he commented. “He is a brilliant coach and that team is not being coached at all. No way.

“There is no way on earth he has got anything to do with that team. It’s impossible. That team is absolutely clueless, right the way through it. Steve McClaren is a top operator and I can only think other people are coaching the first team and he’s a bystander.”

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