There’s a touch of irony in the fact that Chelsea is the only team recently making Manchester United appear competent, especially amid media speculation about Graham Potter possibly replacing Erik ten Hag as the head honcho at Old Trafford.
However, the potential appointment carries a significant cautionary note for Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Manchester United’s performance this season has been far from impressive.
They were eliminated from European competition midweek and are trailing significantly in the Premier League, despite Ten Hag witnessing his team’s split personality in a 2-1 victory over Potter’s former team less than 10 days ago.
In the subsequent week and a half, United faced humiliation at the hands of Bournemouth and, as a consequence, will spend the season without the tongue-in-cheek luxury of Thursday night football.
They couldn’t even secure a place in the supplementary Europa League, arguably regressing this season.
Certainly, there are mitigating factors, including ongoing injury troubles and uncertainty with INEOS yet to finalize their £1.25 billion investment.
The impact of the minority takeover on the pitch remains uncertain, but it’s evident that Ratcliffe aims to have a significant influence.
However, amidst the doom and gloom, has the 71-year-old seen enough to declare Ten Hag as the right manager for his INEOS-backed project?
The Dutchman’s true abilities can only be properly evaluated under football-first owners, an aspect he has not experienced at Old Trafford thus far.
While national media spotlight Potter as a potential next manager, his CV carries a dent from his stint at Chelsea.
As United supporters know too well, the alternative grass is rarely greener.
“Change is challenging in any organization,” remarked Potter during his short-lived Chelsea tenure, lasting seven months.
“I think this [being Chelsea manager] is probably the hardest job in football because of that leadership change and because of the expectations and because rightly where people rightly see Chelsea,” he added.
“And obviously I didn’t think we would lose 10 first-team players [to injury], as well.”
United is currently grappling with a similar predicament. While one challenging stint in west London doesn’t label Potter as a bad manager—and Ten Hag’s current struggles fall under the same consideration—his comments alone provide enough reason for Ratcliffe to reconsider if INEOS is contemplating a change.
Amidst the uncertainties, United requires the stability that, if nothing else, Ten Hag has brought to the table.