Report: Manchester United Set to Hire Ajax's Erik ten Hag as New Manager

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2022

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 20: Erik Ten Hag of AFC Ajax looks on during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax and Feyenoord at Johan Cruijff Arena on March 20, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Bulder/NESImages/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Michael Bulder/NESImages/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Manchester United are expected to hire Erik ten Hag as their next manager, according to ESPN's Mark Ogden and Rob Dawson.

The Ajax manager would take over for Ralf Rangnick, who was appointed on an interim basis following the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ogden and Dawson reported Manchester United narrowed its list of finalists to Ten Hag, Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino, Spanish national team coach Luis Enrique and Sevilla's Julen Lopetegui.

Ten Hag got his first managerial appointment at Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands' second division. He guided the club to promotion to the Eredivisie.

After working a little over two years at FC Utrecht, the 52-year-old took charge of Ajax in December 2017. Ajax has won two Eredivisie titles and reached the 2018-19 Champions League semifinals under his watch. The Amsterdam giant is poised to lift another league title as it sits four points clear of second-place PSV. 

While Ten Hag has proven himself as a manager, many wonder whether he can succeed at Old Trafford.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who spent two seasons as the Red Devils' manager, called Manchester United a "commercial club" and advised Ten Hag to go elsewhere:

Guardian sport @guardian_sport

Louis van Gaal: 'I think Erik ten Hag is a great coach. I have said this on different occasions, and a great coach is always good for Manchester United, except that Manchester United is a commercial club. One can do better coaching a football club' <a href="https://t.co/VgWwJ5sAsP">pic.twitter.com/VgWwJ5sAsP</a>

It was one thing for David Moyes to flame out after one year in charge, because succeeding a legend like Sir Alex Ferguson is an almost unwinnable situation. The fact that United has churned through Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and then Solskjaer speaks to the structural problems plaguing the club, though.

There's no long-term vision, as evidenced by going from a manager in Van Gaal, who emphasizes possession and methodical attacking, to another in Mourinho who's the antithesis of those ideas.

Big-money transfers such as Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho, Donny van der Beek, and Harry Maguire also came in and failed to meet expectations.

Hiring Ten Hag could represent making the necessary changes to alter United's trajectory.

While a worthy candidate, he's not necessary a headline-grabbing appointment in the way Pochettino or Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel would've been, nor did he have a decorated playing career.

According to the Independent's Miguel Delaney, Ten Hag also communicated how "he believes the job is a five-year project." He understands Manchester United's issues won't be resolved by signing a few players in the summer.

United's hierarchy would appear to agree by naming him as Rangnick's replacement. The first test as to whether anything has actually changed will come if and when the club encounters a few bad results early in the 2022-23 season.