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Updated December 16th, 2023 at 07:10 IST

Liverpool vs Man United: Erik Ten Hag believes he has backing of the club despite slump

When Manchester United plays Liverpool, the top team in the English Premier League, on Sunday, there are rumours that manager Erik ten Hag is going to be fired.

Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag reacts during an EPL game | Image:AP
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There's speculation manager Erik ten Hag is on the chopping block as Manchester United heads to English Premier League leader Liverpool on Sunday.

United's worsening form — including elimination from the Champions League this week — has started a rumor that Ten Hag could be replaced by former Chelsea manager Graham Potter.

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That's hardly the best preparation for a trip to Anfield, where United suffered a record 7-0 rout in March and hasn't won a league match in almost eight years. Ten Hag, in charge since mid-2022, insists talk about his future is not a distraction.

“I’m not concerned about that. I want to win, I want to win with my team,” he said on Friday. “I want to progress with my team in the right direction . . . we are here in a project.”

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Doubts have grown about Ten Hag's position as United's season has suffered setbacks.

The proposed investment from British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has led to suggestions he could make changes once he gains a 25% stake in the club. Despite that, Ten Hag believes he has the backing of United.

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“I feel that and they tell (me) that so that’s fine. That’s OK, but I’m focusing on the process, I’m focusing on making this team play better, I’m focusing on making the individuals better. That’s my concern. That’s all I’m doing, focusing on the right thing and that is the team.”

Jose Mourinho was fired as the United manager after suffering a defeat at Anfield at this time in 2018.

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Talk of United being in crisis, however, makes Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp uncomfortable.

“I never like when the headlines about United are not great before we play because it’s like, ‘OK, then it is the game where they can put everything right,’" Klopp said on Friday.

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“I don’t follow United closely enough to know exactly what the problem is there, but I saw Erik ten Hag was manager of the month last month and saw they were the team in form in the last month so how can it be all wrong? I just don’t understand it.”

Liverpool's biggest home crowd in 50 years will be on hand, with more of the new Anfield Road Stand opening up to allow a crowd of more than 57,000. When the stand is finally fully open next year, Anfield will hold 61,000.

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The 7-0 rout was United’s worst in the rivalry and worst competitive defeat since 1931. Klopp described it as a “freak result that happens once in a lifetime.”

Ten Hag hopes there is no repeat. He's still without suspended captain Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire is out injured, but Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford should be available.

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“We take that (7-0) in our memory, but you have to also take the benefit from it and learn from it and Sunday we can prove that,” he said. "It was a bad experience, but it’s not similar — you start again.

“We will not ignore it, but we go there and we will be confident, and I know my players, to go there and be confident from the start to the end. We have to fight there, we have challenge there. We go to win there.”

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Published December 16th, 2023 at 07:10 IST

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