Erik ten Hag excited by challenge of bringing success back to Manchester United

The club confirmed on Thursday that Ten Hag will take charge this summer.

Simon Peach
Thursday 21 April 2022 12:38
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<p>Erik ten Hag is Manchester United’s new manager (Adam Davy/PA)</p>

Erik ten Hag is Manchester United’s new manager (Adam Davy/PA)

Erik ten Hag is excited by the challenge of bringing success back to stuttering Manchester United when he takes over as manager at the end of the season.

Without a permanent boss since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s exit in November, the club initially worked under caretaker Michael Carrick before Ralf Rangnick took charge on an interim basis.

It has been a chastening season for all connected to United and the club confirmed on Thursday that Ten Hag will take charge this summer.

The impressive Ajax boss is looking to wrap up a third Eredivisie title before moving to Old Trafford, subject to work visa requirements, on a deal until 2025, which includes the option of a further year.

Ten Hag impressed the United hierarchy with his long-term vision for the club and proved the unanimous choice, with the 52-year-old seen as having the drive and nous to lead them back to the top.

“It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead,” the Dutchman said.

“I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.

“It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years, and I can assure our fans of my complete commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I move to Manchester United.”

Ten Hag has a huge challenge on his hands given the squad is bloated, unbalanced and incapable of challenging for major trophies.

United’s 4-0 mauling at rivals Liverpool on Tuesday underlined the work required to turn around the 20-time champions, who have failed to launch a sustained title bid since last winning the league in 2013.

Long-admired Paris St Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino was initially considered favourite to succeed Solskjaer, but Ten Hag ended up as the undisputed choice following a rigorous process.

Football director John Murtough said: “During the past four years at Ajax, Erik has proved himself to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe, renowned for his team’s attractive, attacking football and commitment to youth.

“In our conversations with Erik leading up to this appointment, we were deeply impressed with his long-term vision for returning Manchester United to the level we want to be competing at, and his drive and determination to achieve that.

“We wish Erik the best of luck as he focuses on achieving a successful end to the season at Ajax and look forward to welcoming him to Manchester United this summer.”

Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher led the search for Solskjaer’s permanent successor, with chief executive Richard Arnold joining in the final stages of the process.

It is understood Ten Hag was considered to be the candidate that is most closely aligned to United’s identity and strategy, given his track record of winning, developing youth, improving players and playing attacking football.

The 52-year-old has been head coach of Ajax since January 2018, having previously spent time in charge of Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II and Utrecht.

Ten Hag led the Amsterdam side on a remarkable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 and has overseen two Eredivisie title triumphs during that time.

Erik ten Hag has plenty on his to-do list at Manchester United (Adam Davy/PA)

Ajax are looking to win a third as they sit four points clear of second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who beat Ten Hag’s side 2-1 in the Dutch Cup final last Sunday.

“I’m happy that it has been finalised and that it has been officially announced,” Ten Hag said. “That clarity is important.

“But I only have one interest now and that’s these last five games. I want to finish my time here on a positive note, by winning the league.

“By doing so, we’ll qualify directly for the Champions League. Ajax belongs there.”

Edwin van der Sar, the former United goalkeeper who is now Ajax’s chief executive, expressed his gratitude for Ten Hag’s work after striking an agreement with United.

“Four-and-a-half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer,” he said.

“He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league.

“We owe Erik a lot of thanks for what he has achieved with Ajax so far, but we are not done yet. At the end of the season, I will look back more extensively on his departure.

“For now, what matters is the final games of the season in which we all want to bring home the league title.”

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