JOSHUA ZIRKZEE PURSUIT CASTS NEW LIGHT ON ERIK TEN HAG'S MAN UTD POWER STRUGGLE

Erik ten Hag is taking a leading role in Manchester United's pursuit of Jonathan Zirkzee, suggesting Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been unsuccessful in sidelining the Dutchman.

Ratcliffe has appointed a brand-new recruitment staff in Dan Ashworth and Jason Wilcox. Ten Hag kept his job as manager by the skin of his teeth following a wretched second season in charge of the Red Devils.

They finished eighth in the Premier League and ended up rock bottom of their Champions League group. But a win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final earned Ten Hag another chance.

Despite that, it appeared Ratcliffe was attempting to tone down the Dutchman's influence over transfers. That belief has been thrown into doubt though as more details emerged over the chase for Zirkzee.

According to the Daily Star, Zirkzee has emerged as United's top target this summer and they are 'working overtime' to sign him. It is stated that Ten Hag is keen to boost his attacking options ahead of next season.

He, along with his bosses at Old Trafford, are said to have made Zirkzee a priority. United are said to be prepared to meet Bologna's £34million asking price for the 23-year-old, with the Red Devils now locked in talks with his representatives.

An agreement on those terms has not yet been reached, with the two sides understood to still be apart when it comes to wages and length of contract. Further talks are planned over the next 48 hours.

United's decision to keep Ten Hag in his post came as somewhat of a shock, with Ratcliffe thought to have been leaning towards sacking him. But United chiefs then flew out to Spain to interrupt Ten Hag's holiday and inform him he would be remaining in charge.

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Ratcliffe had explored potential replacements for Ten Hag, though eventually settled for bringing in a new technical staff. And the billionaire has defended the move to keep the Dutchman at Old Trafford.

"Erik? Because he's a good coach," the INEOS chairman said while appearing at the Times CEO Summit earlier this month. "The man in the street likes to think that the coach is everything and that everything revolves around the coach.

"Maybe it did in the days of Alex Ferguson. But if you look at those 11 seasons at Manchester United we've had a whole series of coaches, and some of them are very good ones, we've probably had seven coaches and none of them have succeeded at all.

"You can't prescribe the root of the problem to the coach. It's the environment they’re working in. That's where we are putting our efforts - the management, the practices, the quality of the people, all those types of things that we have to address at Manchester United - which is what we would do in [any] business."

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2024-06-24T20:24:06Z dg43tfdfdgfd