Chris Sutton insists that Erik ten Hag is facing a “make it or break it” moment at Man United, with their upcoming match at Aston Villa being seen as an “acid test” for the coach. Sutton suggests that more than just gradual improvement is needed for ten Hag to retain his job.

admin
6 Min Read

Erik ten Hag is ‘on trial’ and needs ‘more than a gradual improvement’ in the remainder of the season to keep his Manchester United job, insists Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton. 

It has been a tough season for the Dutchman with his side sixth in the standings, ahead of Sunday’s ‘acid test’ of a trip to Aston Villa.

United are eight points off Aston Villa, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot as things stand, but a win could reinvigorate their top-four hopes. 

The recent arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS has piled more pressure on Ten Hag, as they surely keep a watching eye over the Dutchman to see whether he is the right man for the job. 

On the latest It’s All Kicking Off episode, Sutton questioned Mail Sport’s football editor Ian Ladyman over what it would take for Ten Hag to keep his job.  

Chris Sutton believes Ten Hag is 'on trial' at Man United

Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton (right) insists Erik ten Hag (left) needs ‘more than a gradual improvement’ from his Manchester United side if he is to keep his job at Old Trafford

Mail Sport's Ian Ladyman said Ten Hag's chances of staying at Manchester United will be boosted if he can provide Sir Jim Ratcliffe (pictured) with European football to look forward to

Mail Sport’s Ian Ladyman said Ten Hag’s chances of staying at Manchester United will be boosted if he can provide Sir Jim Ratcliffe (pictured) with European football to look forward to

The Red Devils are eight points off Aston Villa, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot

The Red Devils are eight points off Aston Villa, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot

Ladyman responded: ‘I mean, at the start of the season, we’d have said top four, wouldn’t we? I don’t think that’s gonna happen. 

‘So now I suppose if we were to get into the Europa League positions and at least give Jim Ratcliffe and the INEOS group some European football to look forward to next season, that might help. 

‘But if I was Jim Ratcliffe, all I would want to see would be signs that the team is moving in the right direction and that the manager is a bloke that knows what he’s doing.’

Giving his own viewpoint, Sutton responded: ‘I think he’s on trial now. 

‘I think there does come a time where you have to strip everything back and look at the performance levels this season and see how far they have regressed.

‘I take your point about what you said about having his best players back. I think that that’s a fair point, but they have really been underwhelming this season. So I think he needs, if it was me, he would need more than just a gradual improvement towards the end of the season for me to keep him on.’

Despite Villa being eight points ahead of their opponents on Sunday, it is Manchester United who go into the game in better form. 

After a long unbeaten home run stretching back to last season, Villa have lost their last two games at home by a 3-1 scoreline to Newcastle and Chelsea.

Sutton believes the trip to Aston Villa is an 'acid test' for Manchester United's season

Sutton believes the trip to Aston Villa is an ‘acid test’ for Manchester United’s season

Villa will be keen to get revenge for their collapse against the Red Devils back on Boxing Day

Villa will be keen to get revenge for their collapse against the Red Devils back on Boxing Day

It is also a rematch of the Boxing Day clash where United came from two goals down to beat Unai Emery’s side 3-2.  

Sutton though believes Aston Villa will pick up the win this weekend in what he describes as an ‘acid test’ for Manchester United.

‘You’d say they’ve had an excellent season. Unai is done a brilliant job, but it’s about finishing the season off now,’ he said.

‘I was, I think I was surprised by, by them being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea. And then (before that) they beat Sheffield United on their own patch. and beat them well, thrashed them, hammered them, and you think, right, they’re back on track. But overall, it’s been an excellent season for them, but they need to finish it off strongly. 

Performances have declined for United under Erik ten Hag this season, though the Red Devils go into Sunday's game with the better form - with Villa losing their last two games at home

Performances have declined for United under Erik ten Hag this season, though the Red Devils go into Sunday’s game with the better form – with Villa losing their last two games at home

‘And of course, Manchester United, this was in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford. Villa were two up, absolutely cruising, and Manchester United turned an incredible second half performance to win the game, 3-2. 

‘But it’s a game which I think that Villa will win because I think that they’ll have that ability to bounce back. 

‘I think it’s a massive test for Manchester United and Erik ten Hag. And you talked about the last three games. This is the last three wins. This is the acid test, though, for Manchester United and where we will learn a lot more about Manchester United than we will about Aston Villa, I think.’

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *