Erik ten Hag leaves Manchester United with doubts after outlining plans in manager interview

The Ajax coach is one of several candidates for the role of permanent manager and told the club he sees the job as a long-term project during an initial interview

Miguel Delaney
Chief football writer
Wednesday 06 April 2022 14:57
Comments

Related video: ‘Incredible person’ - Guardiola on Man United target Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag told Manchester United he believes the job is a five-year project during his interview for the permanent manager’s role, and that the first element he would correct is physical conditioning.

The Ajax coach was one of the first to sit down with the club’s football staff in the search for a new manager, but it is understood he did not make a 100 per cent cast-iron case for his appointment.

While Ten Hag is still seen as the favourite, such an impression echoes the views of the Tottenham Hotspur hierarchy last summer. They did not feel Ten Hag was particularly charismatic, certainly compared to another candidate in Mauricio Pochettino.

United are also conscious of the mixed record of figures adapting from the Eredivisie, and the split within their own playing squad over the manager’s credentials. Ten Hag, in the words of more than one source, “has not blown people away”.

Whether Ten Hag would keep some of those players is another issue. The 52-year-old put together a comprehensive dossier on the squad, where he argued United have been some way off “Champions League shape” in some time, with particular attention paid to fitness. He also named possible transfer targets, with some of those known to include Ajax players.

United have insisted they would do more diligence on signings from the Dutch league, after the struggles of Donny van de Beek and Memphis Depay.

Informing the decision could well be simple finance. While a package for Ten Hag could cost less than £4m, with Ajax willing to let him go, United may have to pay up to £25m to get Pochettino.

That is complicated by the labyrinthine politics around Paris Saint-Germain. While they have been considering replacing Pochettino, especially after this season’s Champions League debacle, change above him is more likely. Leonardo, the French club’s sporting director, is almost certain to be replaced as director of football.

PSG are also very conscious of being seen to be “bullied” out of a manager, as they try and consolidate their position at the top of Europe’s food chain.

Pochettino is greatly admired by some of the United hierarchy but, as with Ten Hag, that is far from unanimous. The feeling remains there isn’t the 100 per cent obvious choice. “It is not a Pep Guardiola to Manchester City situation,” in the words of one source.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in