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The Debate: Who should Manchester United's manager be next season?

Speculation around Erik ten Hag's future at Manchester United has been ongoing ever since Sir Jim Ratcliffe's partial takeover of the club, and the dismal display against Brentford has only added fuel to the fire.

Football

United were comprehensively outplayed and not for the first time this season, with Andre Onana retaining his title of the busiest goalkeeper in world football.

It now feels like a matter of time before United move for a new manager, and the bet365 News Team have put their names forward for who should be in the Old Trafford next season.

Manchester United need a young head coach with fresh ideas; Julian Nagelsmann would be ideal.

Erik ten Hag said that he wouldn’t have taken the Manchester United job if he’d not been granted control over transfers, so with the INEOS takeover, we can safely assume the Dutchman’s reign will come to an end in May.

It’s a new era at Old Trafford with the club finally looking something like a modern footballing institution with a boardroom being packed with shrewd minds.

Gone are the days where the managers of these behemoth clubs act like a Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, running everything from top to bottom, and United need someone who’ll pick a team, deliver a team-talk, oversee training and implement a tactical style decided by those above him.

Since the departure of Ferguson, United have thrashed wildly from David Moyes, to Louis van Gaal, to Jose Mourinho, to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to Erik ten Hag, all with totally different philosophies.

A few names have been linked with the Old Trafford gig, most recently Gareth Southgate, but it’s rare that international managers’ skills transfer to club level and vice versa, and there’s not been anything to suggest Southgate should be the man for United.

Graham Potter has also been linked, but after his ill-fated spell at Chelsea, the jury is still out on the former Brighton boss.

There’s so much uncertainty around many of Europe’s top coaches at the moment; Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona will all be after new managers. Those jobs may be filled by managers already employed at other top European clubs, creating a fresh vacuum. It’s hard for a club like Manchester United, well down in the pecking order these days, to know what market they’re shopping in.

But an ideal candidate to suit the club’s new philosophy would be someone who’s worked in a similar structure, where recruitment is overseen higher up. Ideally a young coach with fresh ideas who’ll implement an attractive style of football.

Much will depend on how Germany get on at this summer’s Euros, but United could do much worse than Julian Nagelsmann. A successful summer tournament could see Nagelsmann stay on, but failure to perform in a home Euros may see his brief stint with the national side come to an end.

Nagelsmann has been excellent throughout his managerial career so far, taking Hoffenheim to the Champions League, taking RB Leipzig (a club whose structure Manchester United will do well to mirror) to the Champions League final, and winning the Bundesliga with Bayern. His tenure with the German giants was cut harshly short towards the end of his second season denying him the chance of winning back-to-back titles, but as we've now seen with Thomas Tuchel, managing Bayern isn't the prospect or job it once was.

Ratcliffe said INEOS will decide Manchester United's style of play as opposed to the manager, but insisted it should be attacking and exciting; Nagelsmann could be just the man they're after.

He's not justified retention, but it would be interesting to see if Erik ten Hag can transform Manchester United's fortunes under new ownership.

This will be an unpopular opinion for many Manchester United supporters and while the standard of performances in recent months do not merit continued backing, the club may benefit from providing Erik ten Hag with a chance to prove himself under the new ownership regime.

Off-field issues have created an excuse culture at Old Trafford and have masked a series of abhorrent displays, the most recent coming at the Gtech Community Stadium where they were utterly overwhelmed by Brentford.

United finished bottom of their Champions League group, were eliminated from the Carabao Cup in the fourth round and are an astonishing 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa in the Premier League, with their only potential saving grace lying in the FA Cup.

If performances were of encouragement and there was a discernible style, the results could be forgiven. Except there’s no clear identity and displays have been lacklustre at best.

Then there is his role in the club’s recruitment, with United failing to get much bang for their buck and the expensive outlay on players such as Antony undermining his authority.

With that said, if Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his associates can finally instil clarity into a muddled strategy, taking recruitment away from Ten Hag would enable him to divert all of his energy onto the training pitch.

We began to see signs that an identity was being forged as Man Utd lifted the EFL Cup and secured a top-three finish last term. Those signs have now most certainly evaporated; their football this season has been unsustainable.

But the style he’s overseen at Old Trafford is of a stark contrast to the domineering, front-foot football Ten Hag had orchestrated at Ajax. As the Dutchman has insinuated in recent months, he doesn’t possess the calibre of player to implement the style he wants.

United have a major rebuild job on their hands but, if the new ownership can get their recruitment moving in the right direction, Ten Hag has demonstrated during his time in Amsterdam that he can build a successful football team.

The development of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo under his tutelage is another string to his bow and with Ratcliffe indicating their transfer policy will be focused on discovering and developing young talent, Ten Hag would likely embrace the challenge of moulding a youthful group.

Yes, he hasn’t justified being kept on and while Ratcliffe will have other candidates in mind, retaining Ten Hag might be a sensible option as United look to set the foundations to re-establish themselves among Europe’s elite.

Gareth Southgate already has the trust of Dan Ashworth; he'll surely be considered.

As Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS complete their takeover of Manchester United, they will be seeking someone they trust, someone who has a good reputation in football circles, someone professional, someone who is a good leader – I believe that someone will be Gareth Southgate.

The appointment may not be universally popular with Manchester United fans – certainly Southgate’s club management career leaves a lot to be desired (two-and a-bit seasons with Middlesbrough which ultimately ended in relegation and the sack does not paint an inspiring picture).

Fortunately for Southgate, his escapades with Boro are essentially irrelevant at this stage – over a decade down the line, his work with England, both on and especially off the pitch, is what makes him an attractive proposition for the new owners.

Incoming sporting director Dan Ashworth is a man very familiar with Southgate’s work with the national team, Ashworth served as the FA director of elite development for more than six years alongside the current England boss, including during his time with the U21s, and it is believed Southgate and Ashworth had a good working relationship.

Current Newcastle director Ashworth, alongside INEOS Director of Sport Dave Brailsford, will be instrumental in the hiring of Erik ten Hag’s inevitable replacement and it isn’t hard to believe the man Ashworth once described as an ‘exceptional leader’ will be firmly on the shortlist.

Certainly trust, man management and professionalism will be highly sought attributes after a tumultuous period for the Red Devils since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, which has included off-the-field fallouts, dressing room moles and a highly publicised bashing from club legend Cristiano Ronaldo after his now infamous second stint at Old Trafford.

A quintessential Englishman, never unprofessional or controversial, Southgate undeniably carries himself with respect. Given he handed England or England U21 debuts to a number of players in the United dressing room, it is also understandable that players such as Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw are reportedly keen for the 53-year-old to be handed the reins at Old Trafford.

United have tried all the different routes now; Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal were big name managers with sparkling CVs and neither lasted more than two years nor returned United to their former glories.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær was the returning club legend, armed with nostalgia and renewed fan optimism at appointing ‘one of their own’ who ‘knows the club’.

The Norweigan lasted less than three years at Old Trafford and failed to win any trophies.

Manchester United have had the world-class players, they have hired the big-name managers; in the new INEOS era expect the men in charge to approach a man they trust, a man who already has the respect of several members of the United squad.

Gareth Southgate may not be the most glamourous of appointments to kick-off the new era at Old Trafford, but expect him to be firmly in the minds of the decision makers at the club this summer.

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