Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has called for unity amid fears of protests against the Glazer family ahead of Monday’s game with Liverpool.
Up to 10,000 supporters are expected to make their feelings known, ending up outside Old Trafford before kick-off.
The new United boss Ten Hag says he has not been at the club long enough to fully understand the fans’ dissatisfaction.
But the Dutchman added: “I can only say that the owners want to win and we want the fans behind the club.”
The discontent dates back to Glazer’s takeover of the club in 2005, but there have been several protests against the Americans’ ownership in recent years – including one in May 2021 which led to a match against Liverpool being postponed.
“I haven’t been at the club long enough to see all the background, but we have to fight together and be united,” said Ten Hag, who took charge this summer.
Ratcliffe expresses interest
The latest protests will come at the end of a turbulent week at Old Trafford.
Simmering frustration over summer recruitment boiled over after last weekend’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Brentford, which sent the club to the foot of the Premier League.
Former director Michael Knighton said he planned to lead a hostile takeover of the club.
Although the public announcement was not taken seriously, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s spokesman said the lifelong fan and billionaire owner of global chemicals company Ineos would be interested in buying the club if it was for sale.
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, too he said jokingly after tweeting he was going to buy United.
It then became clear that the Glazer family were looking at selling part of the club to finance extensive redevelopment projects at both Old Trafford and United’s training ground.
It has created a feverish atmosphere around the club, and many believe they can force the Glazer family out.
“I didn’t see a fighting attitude”
Ten Hag will have to steer his team around this after becoming the first United manager to start his reign with consecutive defeats in more than a century.
The former Ajax boss says he has gone through a full analysis of the embarrassment at Brentford, but that detailed observations are rendered almost meaningless by the brutal reality that his side did not work hard enough.
“I definitely wasn’t happy,” said Ten Hag, who scrapped a planned day off on Sunday because of his frustration at the defeat.
“You can talk about football, about the plan and about a philosophy, but it starts with the basic things; the right attitude, a fighting attitude, and I didn’t see that from the first minute. Obviously a lot went wrong, but we’re doing it don’t need to talk about something when the attitude is not right.”
Anthony Martial has recovered from a hamstring injury and is in contention, while Ten Hag also have a major selection problem in central defence, with £50million new boy Lisandro Martinez having a miserable time since joining from Ajax.
It is possible Martinez could be moved into midfield, to allow Raphael Varane to return to play alongside United captain Harry Maguire.
Ten Hag refused to discuss United’s pursuit of Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, although Carlo Ancelotti confirmed the Brazilian is almost certain to leave the club for “a new challenge” and has not been named in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Celta Vigo.
And he dodged the question when asked if he could be sure Cristiano Ronaldo would be at United after the transfer window closes on September 1.
Some senior figures have concluded that the club cannot move forward properly until Ronaldo has been granted his wish to leave United.
The Portugal forward’s influential agent Jorge Mendes is trying to get a deal sorted, with Ronaldo himself saying he will outline the “truth” when he gives an interview in a fortnight.
Meanwhile, Ten Hag sticks to his previous statements about the 37-year-old.
“He is in our plans,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”