Erik ten Hag has finally responded to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 25% purchase of Manchester United Football Club, stating that he is “looking forward” to working with the new minority shareholder.
News of the investment from Ratcliffe and the INEOS group was finally confirmed on Christmas Eve after a long period of radio silence and more than a year of uncertainty since the club was first put up for sale by the Glazer family.
That being said, regarding the manager and his squad, all eyes were on getting back to winning ways following a poor run of form and a painful goal drought for the fans, and they managed to do just that with a vintage Man United comeback with a festive 3-2 victory over high-flying Aston Villa.
Speaking in a positive post-match for a change, ten Hag now shared his reaction following the arrival of Sir Jim and the new part-owners, assuring that despite the impressive turnaround on the pitch on Boxing Day, he doesn’t believe the long drawn-out process “had an impact on the players” at all.
The Dutchman went on to insist, “I was kept informed during the whole process, first from Richard Arnold [who left the club back in November], later on from Patrick Stewart [his new interim replacement as CEO], so I knew what was going on.
“We’re looking forward [to it]. I think it’s positive for the club that they’re stepping in. They have a lot of experience in sport on the highest level: F1, [the INEOS Grenadiers] cycling team, other football clubs [OGC Nice, so it can only help and support us to catch our targets… They want to work with us, and we want to work with them.”
The Failsworth-born billionaire is yet to have his deal finalised by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) but once it is fully ratified, it is said the 71-year-old and his team will be given total control over all footballing matters.
While a 100% takeover would have obviously been the ideal situation for United fans, the first impressions following an open letter to the supporters — believed to have been penned by Ratcliffe himself — have on the whole been very positive.
As the letter goes on to detail, Sir Jim says he believes his administration can bring “success on the pitch to complement the undoubted commercial success that the club has enjoyed”, but adds that “it will require time and patience alongside rigour and the highest level of professional management.
The much-needed Premier League win was just the start all parties concerned would have been hoping for to kick off the new era of joint ownership and the perfect way to round out what has obviously been a very turbulent year for the Red Devils.
With Ratcliffe reported to be investing over £1.3 billion into the club, including around £237m set aside to improve Old Trafford and surrounding infrastructure, it could be a very different second half of the season and 2024 onward.
The home side already showed more of what the fans are after on the pitch on Tuesday, with youngster Alejandro Garnacho spurring on a remarkable second half and Rasmus Højlund dubbing himself the “happiest man alive” following his first league goal.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.
Manchester City legend Joe Hart announces he will be retiring at the end of the season
Manchester City legend and ex-England international Joe Hart has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season, bringing a close to a career spanning over two decades.
The iconic Man City keeper and former Three Lions goalkeeper played 266 games for the Blues and had 75 senior caps, but has finally decided to call it a day at the age of 36.
Currently in net for Scottish giants Celtic, who are going for an incredible 54th league title this season, the number one and long-serving English keeper confirmed in a club interview that he will be hanging up his gloves at the end of this campaign.
He also represented his country at three major international tournaments but says he is now in a “place of clarity” and confident in his decision, with manager Brendan Rodgers insisting he will be a “huge miss to the game”. Truly the end of an era.
🧤 Joe Hart announces that he will be retiring from playing football at the end of this season.
Joe Hart is retiring after 20 years at the top level.
Having spent 12 years at City between 2006-2018 and making over 340 appearances in the Premier League at the likes of Burnley, West Ham and a handful for Spurs in club competitions, not to mention nearly a century of games for Celtic since 2021 already, it’s fair to call Joe Hart a footballing veteran.
All told, he has made over 700 appearances at club level and even more all-told, with half of a blockbuster season in Scotland still yet to go. Quite the achievement.
Most famously back here in Manchester though, not only did he pick up four golden gloves during his time at the Etihad but he was also in net for the Aguero goal when the Blues won their first league title in 44 years, and his reaction to the stoppage time winner is almost just as memorable as the strike itself.
But, more importantly, he had plenty of highlight reels of his own.
Speaking to Celtic TV following the announcement, the Shrewsbury-born shot-stopper said: “This something that I have thought about for a while, there’s no right or wrong time is there?…
“Physically I feel great — I feel as good as I possibly can do for my age and what I have done to my body, I have been on the bench since I was 15 and have been involved in professional football every day since I was 16.
“I have gone down every avenue to keep myself in the best possible shape to give my all on game day and I do really think I am at that peak, but I am aware time waits for no man and I don’t want my body to be retiring me. That was one of the key factors, thinking I can smash through the finish line.”