Pep Guardiola: Man Utd target Erik Ten Hag could replace me at Man City

Ajax boss Ten Hag is understood to have held talks with United as the Old Trafford club.

Andy Hampson
Friday 01 April 2022 22:30
Pep Guardiola and Erik Ten Hag (Mike Egerton/Joe Giddens/PA)
Pep Guardiola and Erik Ten Hag (Mike Egerton/Joe Giddens/PA)

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester United managerial candidate Erik Ten Hag would make an excellent successor for him at Manchester City.

Ajax boss Ten Hag is understood to have held talks with United as the Old Trafford club look to appoint a new full-time manager for next season.

Yet the Dutchman, who did not deny he had spoken to United in an interview published on Friday, appears to be a man in demand with other clubs reportedly interested in acquiring his services.

City boss Guardiola knows Ten Hag from their time together at Bayern Munich (Mike Egerton/PA)

Guardiola, who worked with Ten Hag at Bayern Munich, thinks he would even fit in well at the Etihad Stadium when the Spaniard eventually leaves.

The City manager, who is contracted until the end of next season, said at a press conference: “Are you asking me if Erik Ten Hag could be here? Definitely.

“A lot could be here and I think he could be one of the ones. For the way he approaches the game, definitely, definitely. I will say (it) to (director of football) Txiki (Begiristain) now!”

Guardiola’s comments come after Louis Van Gaal, the United boss from 2014-16, questioned whether his old club would be the right fit for his countryman Ten Hag.

Van Gaal, who is now the Holland national team coach, pointedly said Ten Hag “must choose a football club and not a commercial club” if he leaves Amsterdam this summer.

Former United manager Louis Van Gaal has given his opinion on Ten Hag’s future (Martin Rickett/PA)

These remarks were dismissed on Friday by United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who questioned why Van Gaal took on the Old Trafford post himself if he felt the club was too commercialised.

Rangnick said: “I think football worldwide, and even more so in the English Premier League, when any rich person or company can buy a club, as long as they pass the fit-and-proper person test, it’s a commercialised business.

“That’s for sure, no matter which club in which city. What I can only tell you from the last four months is that this is a club with a big tradition with a close relationship with the supporters and to the whole city, region and area.

“I don’t see anything negative in that and if this was aimed at something else inside the club I can’t say anything to that.

“Louis himself, as an experienced coach, signed a contract here some five or six years ago and he could have known that in advance if he had that opinion.”

Ten Hag is not the only name reportedly in the United frame with Mauricio Pochettino and Luis Enrique among other candidates being linked.

The relationship we had was good, especially when we talked about football and, with players, he was exceptional.

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola, however, is in no doubt about Ten Hag’s credentials having seen him at close quarters.

The 52-year-old, who led Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 and is chasing a third Eredivisie title this season, was previously reserve manager at Bayern while Guardiola was in charge of the first team.

Guardiola said: “We spoke quite regularly and he is just an incredible person and human being. I was surprised at how humble he was.

“For his qualities, just take a look at his Ajax team in the last years. It is a joy to watch and in many games, not just the year they got to the Champions League semi-final – but with little details they would have reached that final.

“The relationship we had was good, especially when we talked about football and the second team, and with players he was exceptional.”

Rangnick does not appear to be involved in the process to appoint the next United manager (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ten Hag told Sport 1 in Germany he did not “rule anything out” with regard to his future. When asked to confirm whether discussions with United had taken place, he said: “There are always talks with representatives from other clubs, that’s normal.”

United’s process for appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s permanent successor has not so far involved Rangnick, who has been handed the post until the summer when he will take up a consultancy role.

Rangnick said: “I know they have spoken to some people but so far we haven’t spoken about the experience and the impressions they have got from those meetings.

“It’s not an issue for me. For me it’s important to focus on the next games.”

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