Newcastle's Eddie Howe or Man United's Erik ten Hag - who will be the first managerial casualty?
As Newcastle and Manchester United continue to grapple with disappointments on the European stage and struggle domestically, the fates of managers Eddie Howe and Erik ten Hag hang in the balance.
Newcastle United's hopes of European success were crushed after a 2-1 defeat against AC Milan in the Champions League, leading to an early exit from the group stage and a failure to secure a spot in the Europa League. The Magpies' manager, Eddie Howe, now finds himself under increased scrutiny as his team faces a challenging period of three consecutive defeats in all competitions.
Howe's situation is mirrored across the league by Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag. Both managers took charge of their respective teams during challenging periods, exceeding expectations last season with top-four Premier League finishes. However, the current campaign has seen a dramatic downturn in fortunes, with Newcastle languishing in seventh place and Manchester United in sixth, failing to make an impact in European competitions.
Newcastle faced formidable opponents in PSG, Borussia Dortmund, and AC Milan, managing a memorable victory against PSG but ultimately falling short, especially in the critical clash against Milan. The near-misses proved costly in a tightly contested group, leaving the Magpies out of European competition. Manchester United, too, disappointed, finishing last in a group that included Bayern Munich, Copenhagen, and Galatasaray, showcasing a lack of temperament and nerve in crucial moments.
Both teams have grappled with significant injury problems, impacting their performances on the field. The struggles with player availability have added to the challenges faced by Howe and ten Hag in steering their teams through a demanding season.
While rumors surrounding ten Hag's potential departure from Manchester United have gained momentum, the pressure on Howe seems less intense. Reports suggest that Newcastle's Saudi owners maintain full faith in Howe's ability to reverse the team's fortunes swiftly. In contrast, Manchester United is reportedly eyeing Julen Lopetegui, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, as a potential successor to ten Hag.
As Newcastle and Manchester United continue to grapple with disappointments on the European stage and struggle domestically, the fates of managers Eddie Howe and Erik ten Hag hang in the balance. While Howe enjoys some respite with the support of Newcastle's ownership, ten Hag's position at Manchester United appears increasingly precarious. The coming weeks, featuring tough matchups against Liverpool and Aston Villa, will likely determine the immediate future of both managers, with the possibility of curtains falling on one or both managerial tenures.