Following his first trophy as Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag has penned a heartfelt and inspiring open letter to the club’s fans.
The Dutchman led United to their first trophy in six years by winning the Carabao Cup on Sunday evening, one of the last pieces of silverware they won back in 2017, with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle.
More importantly, the 53-year-old has well and truly won over the Old Trafford faithful not only with his results but his style of football, man management and overall attitude when it comes to the job.
Writing his letter on Monday morning, not even 24 hours after having lifted the League Cup, ten Hag took to thanking the fans for their support both inside Wembley and around the world, but also making it clear that this is just the beginning.
He began by stating: “When I arrived at the club, we spoke about the challenge and importance of reuniting this group of players with our amazing fans.
“Believe me, this squad knows exactly how important you are. The bond between the supporters and the team is there for everyone to see and what we experienced together yesterday will only further strengthen that bond.
“The atmosphere generated by those of you at Wembley was incredible. From the first minute until the last you were there with us, driving the team on, supporting and encouraging them to get over the line to bring the trophy back to Manchester.”
He also made sure to recognise the countless fans who couldn’t get a ticket for the final, adding: “For those of you who couldn’t be there, we felt your support before, during and after the game. Know that each and every one of you will always play your part in this team being successful.”
Speaking to the media after the game, it was apparent that the former Ajax man felt that bond and connection with the fans from minute one, declaring, “I just love United… this is the right club for me — I want to be part of it.” If that doesn’t get you, we’re not sure anything will.
He went on to state how proud he is of his “players and staff for their preparation and performances, noting that the final showed both him and the fans “the required desire, spirit and determination that we must demand of everyone who represents Manchester United.”
Insisting that the team continue to set themselves the highest of standards day in, day out, he said the group “know the importance of silverware throughout the history of this great club” and while they were happy to win their first trophy together, they are “by no means satisfied and will not stop here.”
“Together we have experienced the feeling of what it means to win together for Manchester United. It is truly magnificent and will only make each of us hungrier for more success.
“This group has made great strides in the last few months but there is still a lot more to come. I can assure you that everyone at Carrington will be working constantly because we know that this club and you, our supporters, deserve more great days like this.
Putting that first piece of silverware behind him already, ten Hag concluded his open letter by assuring United supporters that the club’s main goal now is to stay focused and keep pushing.
“We will go back to work today, with [the] full focus now on preparing to face West Ham in the FA Cup on Wednesday evening. There will be no complacency in our desire to return this club back to where we want to be.
“Please know that you are vital to what we want to achieve and take yesterday as proof of what can happen when we are all United together. Thank you for your support and dedication”.
We have a feeling ten Hag and United are going to have a very long and successful love affair.
Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to submit ‘world record’ offers to buy Manchester United as other bidders are expected to join the race
The deadline for the second round of bidders in the race to takeover Manchester United football club has officially passed, with multiple world record offers reportedly on the verge of being submitted.
Following the first round of bids, which saw a Qatar investment group headed up by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe both put in their initial offers, Manchester United set a second deadline of 9pm on 22 March for them to increase their offers and welcome other offers.
While the opening bids matched each other at £4.5 billion, working with financial advisors Raine Group who are brokering in the deal from the US, neither reached the Glazer family ownership’s estimations, who value the club closer to £6bn.
As a result, both went on to carry out further negotiations — each visiting Old Trafford last Friday and staying for upwards of six hours (more than 10 in the case of the Qataris) — but it is now thought they may no longer be the only parties involved in the bidding war. Whether it will be in time is the issue.
Despite earlier reports that Sheikh Jassim and his associates had submitted a “world record offer” before the Glazers and Raine Group’s 9pm deadline (5pm New York time), Sky Sports‘ Kaveh Solhekol has now clarified that the bid was not submitted in time and that they have asked for an extension.
Man United are said to have agreed to the extension and Sheikh Jassim still remains confident that they have the “best bid” of the bunch.
Moreover, as per the likes of Mike Keegan, Jim Ratcliffe was also set to enter his second bid, with both offers said to have increased to around the £5bn mark. However, the INEOS chief exec is also said to have failed to meet the deadline and been granted an extension, according to a senior source.
Kaveh also went on to detail that multiple other offers have in fact been submitted, with the numbers said to be “approaching eight” different bidders.
Any bid of more than £3.75bn would break the world record fee for a sports club set when the Denver Broncos were sold last summer.
As for the frontrunners, both offers are still around a billion short of the Glazer’s asking price and not only have Sheikh Jassim and co. already warned they will ‘walk away’ if the price is too high, but it’s unclear how far Ratcliffe’s wealth can stretch if he is to continue pursuing a deal.
The key difference between the two bids is that Qatar’s bid will apparently make the club debt-free given the sheer mass of state wealth behind them, whereas the Failsworth-born businessman’s financing may be more complex to put together.
Trying to clear up the confusion, The Times‘ Matt Lawton said on Twitter that “both Qatari and INEOS representatives said their bids were in, United sources [are] saying they haven’t yet bid and have asked for an extension”, with offers now set to be made by tomorrow.
As reported by Sky Sports earlier this week, it was thought that “at least five other bidders” and as many as eight in question could join the race along with Ratcliffe and Qatar, who were the only two parties to have submitted an official offer for United during the first round of bidding.
However, a detailed list of the other candidates and precisely how many are still yet to be confirmed; Kaveh did go on to suggest that some could simply be a form of “hot air” designed to hopefully urge the ‘serious bidders’ to edge their offers up even higher.
As for next steps, neither of the parties in the supposed two-horse race expect an immediate decision from the board, especially after the unexpected delay, and those who submitted new offers in the second round of bidding will have to wait at least seven days to hear back from the club and brokers Raine Group regarding their progress.
However, it is worth noting that these subsequent bids may not necessarily be attempts to buy the club outright and not only is there a feeling that a third round of negotiations could take place, but there is also a growing sense that the Glazers could still pull out of a potential buyout altogether.
85-year-old gran from Altrincham stars in new Adidas running advert
Everyone’s favourite gran, Barbara Thackray, is back in the headlines and this time she isn’t just jogging and raising money, she’s featuring in Adidas’ brand new running advert.
The Altrincham-born and bred grandmother, who has become a local legend and inspiration across the UK with her incredible fitness and fundraising feats in recent years, is no stranger to being interviewed following her amazing efforts, but now she’s popped up in the new Adidas running ad too.
Barbara stars alongside the likes of Liverpool footballer Mo Salah, Qatari hurdler Mariam Farid and Egyptian runner Khadija Hegazy in the new TV and YouTube ad spot.
In the genuinely moving minute-long commercial, Barbara’s lovely little face pops up right at the end. Always save your best till last.
Actually quite stirring and inspiring, right?
Maybe it’s just us going soft in our old age (we never used to well up and interviews, promise), or maybe it’s because we know all the truly wonderful things she’s been doing for charity and her local community of late.
The Alty nan, who turned 85 earlier this month — the same day she broke her own PB in the annual Trafford 10k — has raised over £20,000 for St Ann’s Hospice in just a few short years, having been a champion of the organisation for more than 10 years amongst her sister’s illness and eventual passing.
She only started running when she turned 77 but now she runs around 12 miles every week.
The organisation’s Fundraising Manager, Lucy Leeming, said: “The awareness Barbara has raised across Greater Manchester for the importance and vitality of St Ann’s Hospice has undeniably helped raise funds and awareness for our charity.
“Her passion and dedication to towards our charity shines through in everything she does for us, we’re so grateful to have her support.”
As for Barbara herself, she’s still encouraging people of all ages to get into running; her only advice is “to begin gently and listen to your body.” No wonder the global sports brand chose her: she embodies everything the campaign is about.
To show this Alty gran some love and help her continue her incredible efforts, you can donate HERE.