Manchester United have received a boost in their prospective pursuit of Ajax manager Erik ten Hag as they continue to search for Ralf Rangnick’s long-term successor.
Rangnick took charge of his first United game over the weekend after arriving at the club as an interim manager until the end of the season before taking up a consultancy role for the subsequent two years.
However, talk has already turned to who could replace the 63-year-old next summer, and Ten Hag appears to have opened the door to a potential switch, explaining that he feels he is ready for the next step in his managerial career. Speaking amid speculation with United, he said:
“I think I’m ready for it (to move to a top foreign club),” the Dutchman told de Volkskrant. “I would be happy to take up that challenge. But I’m not chasing it.
“If it turns out that that step will never come, I will not say that my coaching career has failed. But I think I have sufficient competencies to take on that challenge.”
Current Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has been widely regarded as the favorite to take over the Old Trafford hot seat in recent months, but Ten Hag may prove to be a more appropriate appointment.
During his four-year stay at Ajax, the Dutch tactician has achieved a remarkable win percentage of 74% after coming out victorious in 139 of his 188 games in charge of the capital club.
Ten Hag has also shown himself to be capable of claiming silverware on a regular basis, winning two Eredivisie titles, two Dutch Cups and one Dutch Super Cup, while guiding Ajax to the Champions League semi-final in 2018/19.
And his entertaining style of play and success on the pitch has earned him several plaudits, including Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“Erik (ten Hag) is rightly regarded as one of the most exciting coaching talents in world football at the moment because of the work he does with Ajax,” Klopp said in December 2020.
“Of course, it is a wonderful club – one of the stellar names of European football – but in this moment it is clear they have outstanding leadership of the organisation, and Erik is a big part of that.”
Meanwhile, former striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk lauded his ability to develop young players, citing the raft of exciting talent to be produced under his tutelage at the Johan Cruyff ArenA.
“What he is managing to do with such young players is remarkable,” former striker Van Hooijdonk told TV station NOS in May 2019 (as relayed by Planet Football).
“The likes of (Matthijs) De Ligt, (Frenkie) De Jong and (Donny) Van de Beek have only just come out of the academy and are already playing like veterans. Ten Hag deserves huge credit.”
Whether the United hierarchy make a move for Ten Hag at the end of the current campaign remains to be seen, but the club’s supporters would surely welcome his arrival with open arms.
The Red Devils fanbase would relish the 51-year-old’s arrival due to his reputation for playing fast, exciting, football, something the 20-time English champions have traditionally prided themselves in.