Manchester United’s next manager has been confirmed with Erik ten Hag announced by the club at long last.
The Dutchman has been convinced to swap the safety of Ajax for the mess which currently is Manchester United.
So how exactly did the club manage this? United has been described by many as the impossible job, with Ten Hag the fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson
There are five key factors behind Ten Hag agreeing to become Manchester United manager…
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Patience and vision
Manchester United could have made a panic appointment in November and settled for whoever was available. This was a limited pool, although Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Conte were credible options, neither were the long-term planners United wanted.
United wanted a manager who could rebuild, rather than searching for quick fixes. United had a vision that either Erik ten Hag or Mauricio Pochettino would become available, or be tempted, and focused on a long-term plan.
This included some self reflection and an acknowledgement that United had to change the way the club was run. The past few months have bought United time behind the scenes to get the club’s house in order, and further assess the problems at the club.
This patience has paid off with United finally getting the manager the club wanted, and now the hard work can really begin.
Ed Woodward stepping down
Thankfully Ed Woodward finally left Manchester United earlier this year, and it was long overdue. He really should have been sacked as chief executive after the disastrous summer transfer window of 2013.
Instead, Woodward was allowed to preside over eight-and-a-half more years of failure, repeating the same mistakes, and creating a club more focused on commercial success than doing it on the pitch.
Woodward leaving is significant, because it represents United can finally change. Replacement Richard Arnold knows his limitations and is not planning on interfering in football matters.
Ten Hag will have viewed this changing of the guard as an encouraging sign. With Woodward in charge, he would have been set up to fail.
Ralf Rangnick’s appointment
The first encouraging sign United were focused on becoming a serious football club again came when Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim boss and consultant.
Rangnick’s acceptance to work with United was a signal that this club is not broken beyond repair just yet. Rangnick is one of the smartest minds in world football, a visionary, who will help the club rebuild.
With the German working as a consultant behind the scenes and giving his advice, he is laying he groundwork for Ten Hag to hit the ground running.
Rangnick has already been making recommendations on recruitment and has seen enough from the current group of players that he will be able to advise the new manager. Ten Hag will likely enjoy working with him.
A flourishing youth system
Ten Hag’s task at Ajax was made easier by one of the best youth systems in the world, and Manchester United’s is back to its best too.
There are stars on the cusp of the first team like Anthony Elanga, Shola Shoretire and Hannibal, while the under-18s have reached the FA Youth Cup final for the first time in 10 years, led by Alejandro Garnacho.
There is more talent too at younger age groups, and Ten Hag will not be short on supply of burgeoning talent who he can work with and help to develop.
United’s status as the ultimate challenge
Manchester United’s history and tradition is still an attraction. This is the biggest club in world football and don’t let anybody tell you different.
If Ten Hag can be the manager to win trophies again, he will be revered forever as a club legend, and known as the man who finally got the club back on it’s feet after Sir Alex Ferguson.
He is coming in when the club are at its lowest ebb since 2013, and the challenge could not be greater, and yet, that makes the task ahead so much more alluring if he can get it right. At United he will have more money to spend than at Ajax too, which will also be a key factor, to buy the best players rather than worry about his best ones leaving.
Ten Hag is ambitious and his bravery taking the job on is to be commended. He will need all the good luck he can get.
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- Ajax’s last five managers before Ten Hag and where they are now
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- Ten Hag’s comments when Van de Beek left Ajax for Old Trafford
- Six key issues for Manchester United’s next boss
- The three biggest wins of Ten Hag’s managerial career