Ratcliffe likes him: Man Utd could replace ETH with the “best young coach in Europe” – opinion

If there was any doubt about Erik ten Hag’s future prior to Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday, it certainly is now.

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe now left to pick up the pieces after an odd sequence of events, Saturday night marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Old Trafford circus.

This was not how he intended for his debut performance with United to go. With the 20-time English champions, optimism for a better future had swept the nation. Unfortunately, football rarely goes as planned.

After a fourth straight game in which the Red Devils had failed to win in the Premier League, it left them ten points behind Aston Villa in the race for fourth, a gap that could widen if the Villans beat Arsenal in Sunday’s late kick-off.

The pressure clearly getting to Ten Hag, he remarkably stormed out of his press conference post-match. He did so having ‘thrown Garnacho under a bus‘ – in the words of Mark Goldbridge – for some of his post-game comments.

The Dutchman’s style of play was also criticised by full-back Diogo Dalot, who said: “It’s been one of our concerns, maybe [we need to] try to be more compact as a team – don’t try to make the gap between defenders and midfield too big,”

It doesn’t bode well, therefore, for the former Ajax boss’ future in English football.

Erik ten Hag replacement lined up 

In recent weeks, a number of potential replacements have been considered, including Graham Potter, the former Chelsea player, and Thiago Motta of Bologna, who is rumored to be on the list.

Not many people in the northwest are going to be excited by that, given how the latter departed his position at Stamford Bridge. But the memory of Julian Nagelsmann might work.

Ratcliffe at Man United is reportedly growing more interested in the German manager, who scout Jacek Kulig referred to as “the coaching wonderkid” (TEAMtalk).

Nagelsmann is currently in command of the German national team, therefore it seems unlikely that he will make a change until this summer’s European Championships are over.

What Julian Nagelsmann could bring to Man United 

The best teams have been talking about Nagelsmann for a number of years now.

The 36-year-old, who is currently serving in his first international role, spent nearly two successful seasons with Bayern Munich, winning the league in his first season before being let go.

He was replaced by Thomas Tuchel, and we all know how that turned out. For the first time in eleven years, Bayern has lost the Bundesliga, and until they win the Champions League, they run the possibility of finishing trophyless.

Therefore, it would appear that German success in the top division is not guaranteed, and Nagelsmann should be commended for his accomplishments there.

After all, he has been labelled the “best young coach in Europe” by reporter Josh Bunting for a reason. What is that reason? Well, he’s been around the block for nearly a decade now despite his young age.

At 28, he became Hoffenheim’s youngest manager in their history when he took over in 2015 and duly proved his worth, securing Champions League qualification with the club.

How does he do it, though? What philosophy and style does the young manager have?

That’s encouraging for resolving some of Man United’s most pressing problems, though. The youthful coach at Leipzig liked to play with little breadth. That could solve the absurd hole in the middle of the pitch, but it might not necessarily improve Marcus Rashford’s form.

For the entire season, United’s midfield has been problematic. While Jamie Redknapp has said that Casemiro “looks like he’s playing in Soccer Aid” has been a big factor in the club’s demise, Kobbie Mainoo has emerged as a huge success. Opposing teams constantly apply pressure in central areas since he always appears fairly lanky.

As the above video suggests, “overloading the centre is another favoured Nagelsmann tactic” with “possession and domination key to success”.

So, first things first, Nagelsmann would need an upgrade on Casemiro in order to apply his previously described ‘high octane’ style of play.

Interestingly, he also seems to maintain high standards in the dressing room. The same cannot be said for Ten Hag. He’s already fallen out with Jadon Sancho and a war of words could be set to follow with Garnacho too.

The German boss, however, likes to keep his feet on the ground. Speaking to the Bundesliga’s official channels, he once said: “I don’t tell the players who’s starting [a match] until we’re in the dressing room at the stadium.

“It maintains morale. There’s a danger, particularly with young players, that they’ll spend too long in front of the TV the night before because they’ll be thinking: ‘I’m not playing tomorrow’. Even though I’m not the kind of person to criticise players for their actions, I don’t want anything getting out before a game.”

So, he maintains discipline, plays through the centre of the pitch and has a reputation as one of the great young managers around. What’s not to like? He’s even dealt with the pressure at Bayern pretty well. This would be a fine replacement for Ten Hag should Ratcliffe choose to go in a different direction.

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