How Man United chose Erik ten Hag as coach to bring glory back to Old Trafford

Manchester United weighed the profile of eight different managers before selecting Ajax manager Erik ten Hag as their fifth permanent appointee since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Sources told ESPN that Mauricio Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui join Ten Hag on the final four-man shortlist compiled by United director of football John Murtough but the prospect of hiring Bayern Munich’s Julian Nagelsmann, Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel, Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers and former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane are all under consideration following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November. In the case of Nagelsmann and Tuchel in particular, it is almost immediately clear that neither is realistic goals.

Ten Hag, whose team Ajax face PSV Eindhoven in Sunday’s KNVB Beker final, is likely to be confirmed as United manager before the end of the month, with ESPN reporting on April 6 that the bridge This 52-year-old player has emerged as United’s No. 1 choice to succeed Solskjaer, who has been replaced by Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis until the end of the season.

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While United’s owners, the Glazer family, will be hoping that their long search for a manager capable of restoring the club’s dominance in England and Europe has finally come to an end. In the end – some say the search began with Ferguson’s retirement and the decision to replace him with David Moyes – the process that ended with Ten Hag on the verge of a move to Old Trafford appeared to be smooth sailing. It involved two executives, the appointment of Rangnick was unsuccessful and the leaders soon found their prospects harmed, or ended in Rodgers’ case, by the clubs’ poor results. ministry where they are currently in power.

But sources unrelated to United have told ESPN to avoid the negativity surrounding the team’s results and volatility caused by the departure of Ed Woodward in January and the appointment of Richard Arnold as the team’s successor. he was the CEO, the process of hiring a new manager was done. impressive, strategic and well-constructed by Murtough, who settled in Ten Hag after a detailed search for the best candidate available.

“It’s important to look at the options available,” a source told ESPN. “Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are not available and United will never take Nagelsmann out of Bayern. Tuchel is also a real asset to Chelsea, so he is not a reliable option either. So, “You look at the market, who’s capable and trustworthy, and United looked at them all. They didn’t ignore anyone they were supposed to talk to.”

When Solskjaer was sacked on November 21 after a streak of seven defeats in 13, United’s early favorites were Pochettino of Paris Saint-Germain and former Liverpool manager Rodgers. Antonio Conte, available after leaving Inter Milan last summer, was not considered because, a United source told ESPN, his demanding and detailed approach would not work for the team. Old Trafford owner.

United were keen to assess the best domestic option and at the time it was Rodgers, who had succeeded in making Liverpool title contenders in 2014 before winning multiple trophies in Scotland with Celtic, followed by last season’s FA Cup success at Leicester, which brought him. admirers in the United hierarchy. Meanwhile, Pochettino is highly regarded by Woodward, who twice considered appointing the former Tottenham Hotspur manager to replace Louis van Gaal in 2016 and Jose Mourinho two years later. However, Rodgers quickly fell short as Leicester’s results were fruitless, while Pochettino’s contract situation at PSG – he signed until June 2023 – ruled out a quick appointment.



Julien Laurens called Manchester United’s performance against Everton “pathetic”.

Instead, United chose to hire Rangnick to give them time to go through a “thorough and detailed search” for the next manager. That search will be led by Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher. Woodward, who announced his plans to step down after the Super League scheme fell through last April, has played a side role. According to sources, both Ferguson and Rangnick had minimal involvement in the process. However, Woodward’s departure in January brought clarity to the process. With Arnold not burdened by the mistakes of his previous appointments – Woodward has signed Van Gaal, Mourinho and Solskjaer – the leadership change provides a new sense of purpose and speeds up the process. Final.

Arnold wanted a new manager confirmed before the season ended and he tasked Murtough with completing the shortlist. Nagelsmann was discounted like it couldn’t be, while Rodgers had faded from the race long before Arnold took over as chief executive. Zidane, meanwhile, was seriously considered until United understood that the only club role the former France midfielder is likely to return to management is PSG. Tuchel, meanwhile, only emerged as a possible candidate after Roman Abramovich decided to sell Chelsea following sanctions by the UK government for his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was a brief process to gauge Tuchel’s availability, with sources saying United were discouraged that he would leave Stamford Bridge. That leaves the final four – Ten Hag, Pochettino, Enrique and Lopetegui – and it quickly becomes two finals due to the elimination of Luis Enrique and Lopetegui.

In the case of Luis Enrique, sources have said that United believe he has all the credentials needed to be a trophy winner with Barcelona, ​​but “the World Cup killed them” because the Spaniard has no intention of leaving his position before the 2022 World Cup. In Qatar, which begins in November, Sevilla coach Lopetegui has always been an outsider, but is considered for his tactical ability. and his technique. Sources say the concern at Old Trafford is that United have risked hiring “another Unai Emery” by appointing a manager with a track record of success at smaller, but unproven clubs. intelligence at the highest level. While Emery has won four Europa Leagues with Sevilla and Villarreal – he also led Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Champions League this season – his inability to succeed at PSG or Arsenal has indirectly affected his candidacy. Lopetegui with United and the 55-year-old, perhaps felt it. he is not a serious option, having pulled out of the race to replace Solskjaer over a month ago.

So that leaves United to decide between Ten Hag and Pochettino and both men are considered impressive enough to be appointed. However, both have their negative sides. Ten Hag’s inexperience at the highest level, in terms of managing a club the size of United in a high-profile league like the Premier League, could prove an insurmountable problem in the months ahead. and next year. However, Murtough has known the 52-year-old since his time as Utrecht coach between 2015-17, and sources say there are no real concerns about his temperament and ability to step up a big job like United.

With Pochettino, the problem is twofold. In-game information continues to suggest that Real Madrid will make a move to buy the Argentinian this summer, although Carlo Ancelotti is still well on his way to winning La Liga and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, and United have warned. feeling about being manipulated by Real in the 11 o’clock match. There is also the threat of PSG demanding a huge compensation package for their coach, who many expect to leave in the summer regardless, or the French club bringing in Pochettino as a gardener. effectively on the remaining five of his contract if he tries to force a move. to United.

In terms of his coaching qualifications and top-flight experience, Pochettino is seen by United as a safe bet, but ultimately Ten Hag’s draw is that he is seen as a rising star and a not yet debilitated by failure. He has repeated his success at Ajax, building a young, exciting team and showing the ability to exceed expectations in the Champions League. There is something new to Ten Hag that has attracted United and, despite reports that he is trying to secure control of the team at Old Trafford, sources have said it is in fact a negotiation. much more frank with the Dutchman and Ajax.

Time will tell if United get the right person or not, sooner or later they will be accused of hiring the cheapest, easiest option. With a €2m release clause at Ajax and a willingness to develop young players, he could turn out to be a less expensive option than Pochettino, but the appointment will only be judged by what goes on. Yard. If won, Ten Hag will be considered invaluable for a club that has made so many costly mistakes. How Man United chose Erik ten Hag as coach to bring glory back to Old Trafford

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