Gary Neville defends Man United’s controversial manager search

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Retired Manchester United full-back Gary Neville has defended his former club’s decision to search for a new manager before deciding to continue with Erik Ten Hag.

Enduring an abysmal domestic campaign, the Red Devils finished eighth in the Premier League table with just 60 points — their second-worst Premier League finish.

And although the 20-time league winners crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage and exited the Carabao Cup following a 3-0 loss to Newcastle United in the Round of Last 16, there was hope something could be salvaged from the FA Cup.

Despite coming close to losing the semi-final against Coventry City, Ten Hag’s side managed to sneak into May’s final where a repeat of last season’s showpiece against bitter rivals Manchester City awaited.

And even though United went into the FA Cup final as huge underdogs, Ten Hag’s men produced one of their best performances post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Tearing City apart in parts, United went on to win 2-1 and lift their 13th FA Cup — the game we now know kept Ten Hag in the Old Trafford hot seat.

Erik Ten Hag lifted the FA Cup with Man United last season.

Gary Neville says Man United were right to look for new manager despite Erik Ten Hag’s FA Cup win

The Dutchman’s position wasn’t always this assured though. Speculation the former Ajax boss could be sacked by new minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe ramped up even after the final whistle at Wembley.

Talks with several other managers are believed to have taken place, including with Thomas Tuchel and England boss Gareth Southgate, before the club confirmed they’re sticking with Ten Hag, and Neville has reacted to his old club’s approach to their internal end-of-season review.

“I do believe that because Erik Ten Hag had such a disappointing season in the league, the club were well within their rights to be able to see what was out there in the market,” he told Sky Sports.

“But as we all know, the manager’s market this summer has been quite difficult for a number of clubs — top clubs in Europe — I am happy they’ve continued and maintained that stability into next season.”

Erik Ten Hag yet to agree new contract but has no issues

Recently breaking his own silence on his employer’s search for a new manager, Ten Hag, who spoke to Dutch outlet NOS (via Sky Sports), said: “The club management came to me while I was on holiday in Ibiza. They suddenly showed up on my doorstep and told me they wanted to continue with me.

“As with any organisation, it is wise to evaluate. Manchester United did that too. The new owner is new to football and he has taken his time. They have indeed told me they have spoken to other managers. That is not even allowed in the Netherlands.

“We have had good discussions with each other — various topics have been discussed. The conclusion is we will continue together and that they will extend my contract. We still have to reach an agreement on that.”

Ten Hag will now be preparing for the club’s pre-season tour, which is scheduled to start the day after the EUROs final against Rosenborg in Norway.

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