Manchester United are fast approaching a crossroads in their development under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and something will inevitably have to change if results do not improve quickly.
A hugely disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of local rivals Manchester City condemned the Red Devils to their third Premier League defeat in their last four outings over the weekend, piling the pressure on their Norwegian manager.
It’s led to increased speculation over the future of Solskjaer, with a host of illustrious names being linked with the Old Trafford hot seat as a result.
One of the reported leading candidates to take over the reins in the red half of Manchester is Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, with The Sun claiming he’s on the wishlist of United’s hierarchy, although tempting him to leave Amsterdam will be difficult.
Alan Nixon’s report states that: “ERIK TEN HAG is being eyed as a potential replacement for under-pressure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Manchester United hot seat. But tempting the current Ajax boss to Old Trafford will be no mean feat.
“The 51-year-old has been in charge at the Johan Cruyff Arena since 2017 and is known to have the utmost respect for his employers.”
Although prizing Ten Hag away from the Johan Cruijff ArenA will be a sizeable task in itself, the United chiefs must attempt to do so for multiple reasons.
During his four-year stay at Ajax, the Dutch tactician has achieved a remarkable win percentage of 73% after coming out victorious in 135 of his 184 games in charge of the capital club.
Ten Hag has also shown himself to be capable of claiming silverware on a regular basis – something Solskjaer has not yet done – winning two Eredivisie titles, two Dutch Cups and one Dutch Super Cup.
And the young manager has been able to replicate his domestic success on the European scene, confirming his status as one of the most highly-regarded coaches in the sport.
He was the mastermind behind Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals back in 2018/19 and reached the last eight of the Europa League last season.
But it’s also Ten Hag’s style of play and ability to get the best out of United outcast Donny van de Beek that makes him such an appealing candidate to the 20-time English champions.
The club’s supporters would surely relish Ten Hag’s proposed appointment due to his reputation for playing fast, exciting, football with Ajax, while £40m signing Van de Beek played some scintillating football under his former mentor.
During the 2018/19 campaign, the attacking midfielder bagged an incredible 17 goals and provided a further 13 assists in 57 appearances, elevating his status across the continent.
Ten Hag’s installation, therefore, is something that United’s ownership must carefully consider if they want to bring entertaining, winning football back to the Theatre of Dreams while also extracting the best form from Van de Beek along the way.