Erik ten Hag: Manchester United appoint Ajax boss as new manager
Erik ten Hag will join Man Utd on a three-year deal – with option of a further year – in the summer; Dutchman replaces Ralf Rangnick, with interim boss set to take up consultancy role at Old Trafford; Ten Hag: “I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering success”
Manchester United have appointed Ajax boss Erik ten Hag as their new manager, to replace interim Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.
The 52-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the option of a further 12 months. He told United’s website: “It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead.
“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.”
Mitchell van der Gaag, Ten Hag’s assistant at Ajax, is likely to join him at Old Trafford with advanced negotiations already under way.
Edwin van der Sar, Ajax’s chief executive and a former United goalkeeper, said, “we would have liked to have kept Erik for longer”, but added, “he is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world”.
Ten Hag told Ajax’s website: “I’m happy that it has been finalised and that it has been officially announced. That clarity is important.”
John Murtough, United’s football director, 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.”
Ten Hag was understood to be the unanimous choice at United following a rigorous recruitment process that was led by Murtough and Darren Fletcher, the technical director.
Richard Arnold, the executive vice-chairman, was also involved and the trio are understood to have agreed Ten Hag was the best candidate for the job.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Paris Saint-Germain manager who previously coached Tottenham and Southampton, and Julen Lopetegui, the Sevilla boss, were also interviewed by United, but the club are believed to have felt the Dutchman was the one that most closely aligned with their plans for the future.
Pochettino and Lopetegui are understood to have interviewed well, while Luis Enrique was also considered until it quickly became apparent he was committed to Spain ahead of this year’s World Cup.
United were looking for a number of attributes from their new manager, including proven success, a commitment to youth, the ability to improve players and the will to introduce an attractive style of play.
Ten Hag is said to have set out his long-term vision to build a successful and exciting team during conversations with United, in which he is also said to have shown enthusiasm for the challenge he now faces at Old Trafford.
Sky Sports News understands Ten Hag will tell United players he does not want any passengers at the club.
His key message to them will be that he is the manager, there is a new regime and United are going to go back to playing like Manchester United.
If there are any players who are not up for the challenge, they are welcome to leave, but everyone will start with a clean slate. He has not been given any specific targets, but he knows his job is to make United great again.
Ten Hag also wants Steve McClaren to return to United and talks about making that happen are ongoing.
The good relationship between United and Ajax helped smooth the process to appoint Ten Hag. It is believed potential negotiations with PSG, had United opted for Pochettino, would have proved more problematic.
Ten Hag will be United’s fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. The club have won only three trophies in the following nine years – the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League – while they are currently in danger of missing out on qualification for the Champions League next season.
Ten Hag is set to oversee a much-needed rebuild at United, with Rangnick – who is due to take up a consultancy role at Old Trafford this summer – saying after the 4-0 thrashing at rivals Liverpool on Tuesday that the side may need up to 10 new players.
A number of first-team players, including Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani, could be set to leave as part of the overhaul, with their contracts expiring at the end of the season.
On Wednesday, the departures of Jim Lawlor, United’s chief scout, and Marcel Bout, the head of global scouting, were announced.
Will Ten Hag walk into Champions League football?
Man Utd are currently sixth in the Premier League, three points off the top four but having played a game more than both Tottenham (fourth) and Arsenal (fifth). Will they squeeze into the top four? Here are their remaining fixtures…
- April 23 – Arsenal (a) Premier League
- April 28 – Chelsea (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
- May 2 – Brentford (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
- May 7 – Brighton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
- May 22 – Crystal Palace (a) Premier League
Analysis: Man Utd exposure like nothing Ten Hag will have experienced
“The 52-year-old has had admirers at Old Trafford stretching back to 2018/19, when his Ajax side knocked out Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League, before then stunning Juventus and only being denied a place in the final after Lucas Moura’s last-minute goal for Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham.
“Ten Hag is a popular choice to take charge at Old Trafford and represents what is seen as a “fresh, exciting future”, although there is an acceptance risk is involved as it is a sizeable leap for him.
“The last highly-successful Ajax coach to move to England’s top flight – via Inter – was Frank de Boer, who lasted just 77 days at Crystal Palace.
“The expectations, global glare placed on United, and level of competition at the top end of the Premier League is like nothing he would have previously experienced.”
‘Ten Hag appointment a risk for Man Utd’
Kaveh Solhekol, Sky Sports’ chief reporter:
“The timing is not ideal if you are an Ajax supporter as they are in a race to win the Dutch title, but when Man Utd came calling, Erik ten Hag really could not turn down the club.
“It suits Man Utd to make this statement today for a variety of reasons: from a PR point of view, everybody connected with Man Utd wants some good news at the moment and also, it makes it clear what is happening at Man Utd over the next few months. There is clarity now – all the players who are thinking of leaving, or who Man Utd want to sign, know Ten Hag is going to be the new manager.
“He is also going to have the whole of the summer and pre-season with the players, so that is perfect preparation as far as he is concerned.
“I also think it is very significant he is being called the manager – we know one of the things he has been asking for is to be in control of everything. He does not just want to be a head coach – he wants to have control over the transfer strategy and recruitment as well.
“I think Man Utd have made a lot of mistakes when it has come to appointing managers since Sir Alex Ferguson left, but this time round they think they have the right man and obviously he has a big, big job to do.
“But people need to retain a sense of perspective as well – I know the team are not playing as well or in the kind of way a Man Utd team should be playing. But let’s not forget, less than 12 months ago, Man Utd finished second in the Premier League, they finished above Liverpool and over the past decade, six of the last 10 seasons they have finished above Liverpool.
“Man Utd are still a massive, massive club – one of the biggest clubs in the world. There are obviously still issues with the ownership structure, the way the club is run, but the big problem is they have not had the right manager in charge, and when they have had the right man, they have not given that manager enough time.
“This time round, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his job five months ago, we told you the replacement was going to be either Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag. I know a lot of people would have preferred Pochettino as he had Premier League experience with Southampton and Spurs, so it is a bit of a risk going for Ten Hag.
“Yes, he has done very well in Holland, but he has been managing the biggest club in Holland, he does not have any Premier League experience, but United have spoken to various candidates, they have interviewed Ten Hag, they interviewed Pochettino as well, and they have decided to go for Ten Hag. From United’s point of view, it is great they have been able to get Ten Hag and announce it so quickly.”
Neville: Man Utd fans prefer Ten Hag
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville speaking on The Overlap in March:
“Ten Hag worked in Bayern Munich when Pep Guardiola was there. We know the impact that had. He’s won a couple of titles and cups in Holland. His style of play is good. He’s got more experience than I think most people think at the age of 52.
“It’s a massive jump but he’s got a good coaching pedigree. He’s not scarred and that’s a good thing – he comes in fresh. I did a poll the other week and I was absolutely stunned – 220,000 people voted and 82 per cent were in favour of bringing him in over [Mauricio] Pochettino.
“I knew that he would be favourite because you can smell it on social media. I think Manchester United fans are demanding a fresh start and a fresh name. They want something that’s completely different that they’ve not had before, and that’s probably gone against Pochettino in some ways.”
The making of Erik ten Hag
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
“Erik ten Hag will go to Manchester United as an outsider tasked with implementing cultural change at one of the world’s most famous clubs. But that is a job that he has done before.
“At Ajax, they mocked his accent. He was a Tukker – a man from the east of the country, a region known for a down-to-earth approach. There were those in sophisticated Amsterdam who did not believe the great Ajax had anything to learn from him. They were wrong.
“Two domestic doubles and one kick away from a Champions League final later and there is an acceptance Ten Hag has brought some of the best football that Ajax have seen in years. His methods have delivered success, his manner has won over the doubters.”
Ten Hag’s coaching journey from Twente to Ajax via Go Ahead Eagles explained in-depth by those who were there from the start…
What must Ten Hag solve at Man Utd?
Erik ten Hag must waste no timing in tackling the pressing issues at Manchester United.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick – who is due to take up a consultancy role at Old Trafford this summer – believes the team could require 10 new players as part of a huge rebuild.
With United having finally confirmed the appointment of their new manager, Sky Sports takes a look at some of the key problem areas he must rectify…
Erik Ten Hag’s announcement as Manchester United’s new manager means we’ve ripped up the script for the Essential Football Podcast, with the Dutchman’s unveiling heralding – yet another – new era at Old Trafford.
Host Ron Walker is joined by Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher as well as senior football writer Peter Smith and features writer Adam Bate to talk about the new man, what United can expect from him and the challenges he faces at Old Trafford.
The podcast also looks ahead to the weekend meeting at the Emirates, when a resurgent Arsenal host United on the back of a 4-2 win at Chelsea on Wednesday night.