Five things we have learned one week since Erik ten Hag was announced as Manchester United manager

It is one week today since Erik ten Hag was appointed as Manchester United manager. The Dutchman will take over at the end of the season.

United’s official announcement saw the incoming manager declare: “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.”

The week has gone quickly since Ten Hag was first announced. Here is a look at five things we have learned since…

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He is fully focused on Ajax

Ten Hag was not kidding when he promised ‘complete commitment’ to Ajax. Those words are easy to say, but difficult to enact when the world’s attention focuses on him. Ten Hag has proven true to his promise.

There has been the odd snippet here and there, but generally, Ten Hag has stayed silent on United, and has given Ajax’s title battle his focus, as he rightly should. United fans respect that.

Ajax won their weekend game to move nearer to a third Eredivisie title, and they need three wins from their last four matches to clinch it.

Ten Hag proved he had not time to indulge the English press when he blanked Sky Sports, who had travelled to Holland for an interview. He ignored them as they tried to grab an interview with him outside the Ajax training ground.

Nobody knows who his top transfer targets are

It was envisioned that Ten Hag’s announcement may set United’s transfer plans into motion. At present, those plans are no clearer.

There has been no progress made on any deals, and speculation is reaching a desperate stage where the press are concerned, with annual rumours linking Sergej Milinkovic-Savic cropping up, the Nicolas Gaitan of the last five years.

The Athletic reported this week that contrary to suggestions talks were advanced with Kalvin Phillips, Manchester United have not even contacted Leeds, or his representatives over a move.

One of the latest rumours has seen The Sun suggest United will target Ajax’s Sebastien Haller. Of course, this could happen, as Haller has played under Ten Hag at both Utrecht and Ajax, but it feels like pure guesswork, in the lack of actual substantive rumours.

United are keeping everybody guessing right now, most probably because Ten Hag is too busy at Ajax to indulge transfer plans, just yet.

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He won’t have Champions League football

When Erik ten Hag was appointed by Manchester United last week, it was after the Liverpool defeat, and before the weekend trip to Arsenal.

A victory over Arsenal would have put United right in the mix to claim a Champions League place, and a draw would even have left everything all to play for. Instead United lost 3-1.

There were a couple of dodgy referee decisions in the game, but like all season long, United ultimately beat themselves, with a combination of awful defending, and poor finishing – this time from the penalty spot.

Even if Arsenal or Tottenham have a late season meltdown now, United still probably won’t pick up enough points from the remaining games to take advantage.

Ten Hag can start preparing now for Europa League football next season, unless there’s worse case scenario with the club dropping into the Champions League, or even the blessing of missing Europe altogether.

One things is certain, United are in dire straits. The challenge in front of Ten Hag has been magnified by these back to back defeats, and the players’ confidence is disappearing.

Assistant managers still unconfirmed

There has still been no formal announcement over who will be Erik ten Hag’s assistant managers at Manchester United.

It is widely expected Mitchell van der Gaag will be hired. The Mirror report he is ‘poised’ to join Ten Hag – but there has been no confirmation, leading to some uncertainty.

There are also conflicting reports over whether or not Steve McClaren will be joining them. The Athletic report the decision is yet to be made, with Ten Hag and United working through a process.

Other names are also said to be in the mix, and it is unclear if an announcement will drop soon, or whether this situation will simply wait until the end of the season when Ten Hag joins up. Like Ten Hag’s appointment, it would be helpful for the club to bring clarity and give the Dutchman the support he needs.

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Rangnick is determined to work with him

Interim boss Ralf Rangnick has cut a frustrated figure in recent interviews, clearly unhappy with the team’s form, and he is determined to help the club turn the situation around.

Last week he described Ten Hag as ‘the best possible coach’ for Manchester United, and said he is willing to help as much as the incoming manager wants him to.

On Wednesday’s press conference, Rangnick doubled down, and told BBC Sport: “This is still a massively interesting club and I look forward to helping Erik to change the whole approach next season so Manchester United can be a top club.”

Together the pair could be a dream team for United, and supporters hope there may be additional help from Paul Mitchell, although we will wait and see on that front.

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