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Ineos are making a mess of Man United manager search and Erik ten Hag could be the fall guy

Ineos are a little fortunate that this can still - just about - constitute their honeymoon period. Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made enough positive steps since taking charge of football operations at Manchester United that his botched handling of Erik ten Hag’s future can just about be overlooked.

But make no mistake, this has been a desperate couple of weeks for the new footballing figureheads at Old Trafford. In just over three months Ratcliffe has brought ambition and clarity to a club that was losing its way, but the goodwill generated is in danger of being squandered.

You dread to think what the reaction would be if it was the Glazers overseeing an end-of-season process that is becoming as messy and protracted as this one at United. There would be a justified outcry from supporters, particularly given the man being shown the least respect of all is somebody those fans have a strong bond with.

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It should be said that what Ineos are doing comes from a position of wanting what is best for the club. ‘Walk towards the right decision rather than run to the wrong one’, as the maxim of Ratcliffe makes clear. The problem is they are only leaving themselves with one possible decision.

Ten Hag had every right to feel undermined when Ineos contacted potential replacements for him in the week leading up to the FA Cup final. The gameplan he delivered to land victory at Wembley for his club changed the landscape.

But then came Ratcliffe’s congratulatory statement, crudely refusing to mention the manager by name. Now, while United insist their end-of-season review is