The Old Trafford minority stakeholder has reportedly identified his no.1 taget to succeed to Dutch should he leave the Red Devils.

Erik ten Hag's future at Manchester United has been scrutinized since Sir Jim Ratcliffe completed his partial Manchester United takeover. The reason is simple: with a new owner — a minority stakeholder but with control over football operations — comes the desire to bring his own guy, and with the Dutchman struggling this season, this was inevitable.

Julian Nagelsmann and Graham Potter have been heavily suggested while Inter Milan's Simone Inzaghi is a popular name amongst fans despite the Nerazzurri's recent UEFA Champions League round of 16 elimination. However, despite this, one unexpected candidate has reportedly emerged as the favorite and is an unpopular choice.

That man is Gareth Southgate, the polarizing England national team boss who is seen as a fantastic man-manager by some and a tactically lacking manager by his critics.

This is according to the Daily Star, with ESPN reporting something similar, stating that the Three Lions boss boasts tremendous support from Ratcliffe and Co. to replace Ten Hag should the Dutchman leave Old Trafford.

Southgate is a polarizing figure, especially among English fans. Despite leading the Three Lions to a European Championship and FIFA World Cup semifinal, critics argue that he is not suited to getting the best out of England's star-studded squad and is instead holding them back.

A similar sentiment exists around the idea of him managing a top-tier Premier League side, let alone a club of the stature and resources of Manchester United. 

Southgate is contracted to the English national team until December and while the FA are eager to extend this arrangement, Gareth has remained coy on his future with the Three Lions. The 53-year-old will take charge of another major international tournament this summer in Euro 2024 but it remains uncertain whether the gaffer will remain in charge beyond that irrespective of England's performance.

Dan Ashworth, Manchester United's soon-to-be sporting director, worked alongside Southgate at the FA and thus boasts a brilliant relationship with the England boss.

Another key factor is the issue of Erik ten Hag's future. While Southgate has been identified as the no.1 man to succeed Erik should the Dutchman leave, a decision to retain to former Ajax boss or sack him this summer has not yet been made.

The Red Devils are currently sixth in the table but are in contention for UEFA Champions League football, be it through a top-four finish or a fifth ticket. Additionally, Rashford and Co. are through to the FA Cup semifinals, where they will face Coventry, and are expected to make the final for a second year running following their dramatic stoppage-time win against bitter rivals Liverpool. Nonetheless, Ratcliffe is reportedly unconvinced by Ten Hag and would likely turn to Southgate were Ten Hag sacked.