Manchester United CONFIRM Erik ten Hag as their new manager as he leaves Ajax


Manchester United have officially confirmed that Erik ten Hag is taking over as their new manager.

Ten Hag will leave his job at Ajax at the end of the season to become United’s fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. 

The 52-year-old will be joined at Old Trafford by his No 2 Mitchell van der Gaag.

The Dutchman’s appointment has been expected for some time since Sportsmail revealed a month ago that he had been interviewed for the job having moved ahead of Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino. United confirmed the news in a statement on Thursday morning. 

Ten Hag said: ‘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.’  

Football director John Murtough said: ‘During the past four years at Ajax, Erik has proved himself to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe, renowned for his team’s attractive, attacking football and commitment to youth.

‘In our conversations with Erik leading up to this appointment, we were deeply impressed with his long-term vision for returning Manchester United to the level we want to be competing at, and his drive and determination to achieve that.

‘We wish Erik the best of luck as he focuses on achieving a successful end to the season at Ajax and look forward to welcoming him to Manchester United this summer.’  

Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of Erik ten Hag on a three-year contract

United confirmed Ten Hag's appointment in a statement issued on Thursday morning

United confirmed Ten Hag’s appointment in a statement issued on Thursday morning

United released this picture of Ten Hag with a United shirt shortly after the announcement

United released this picture of Ten Hag with a United shirt shortly after the announcement

The Dutch coach, 52, faces the challenge of rebuilding United into a trophy-winning force

The Dutch coach, 52, faces the challenge of rebuilding United into a trophy-winning force

Ten Hag and Ajax lost the Dutch Cup final 2-1 against rivals PSV Eindhoven at the weekend

Ten Hag and Ajax lost the Dutch Cup final 2-1 against rivals PSV Eindhoven at the weekend

Ralf Rangnick has served as interim manager since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking back in November but United have struggled to make any progress on the pitch.

An enormous rebuilding job now falls to Ten Hag, who reportedly left United technical director Darren Fletcher and football director John Murtough shocked with his frank assessment of the club’s problems during his interview. 

Ten Hag was critical of United’s scouting and recruitment policy after an outlay of £1billion since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 with little to show for it.

The new manager, who delivered two league and cup doubles to Ajax, will be tasked with ending a five-year trophy drought at United after another hugely disappointing campaign.  

He will need to make immediate decisions on which players to keep and which to sell, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani all out of contract this summer.

A big decision will have to be made on whether to retain Cristiano Ronaldo, whose contract runs until 2023, with the option of another year.

The announcement also draws a line under the intensifying speculation which has engulfed Dutch side Ajax in recent weeks. 

They lost the Dutch Cup final on the weekend, 2-1 against PSV Eindhoven, but Ten Hag has the chance to sign off in style by winning the Eredivisie. Ajax are, as it stands, four points clear of PSV with seven games to go.  

In a statement released by Ajax, Ten Hag added: ‘I’m happy that it has been finalized and that it has been officially announced. That clarity is important.

‘But I only have one interest now and that’s these last five games. I want to finish my time here on a positive note, by winning the league. By doing so, we’ll qualify directly for the Champions League. Ajax belongs there.’ 

The Ajax chief executive and former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said: ‘Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer. 

‘He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league.

‘We owe Erik a lot of thanks for what he has achieved with Ajax so far, but we are not done yet. At the end of the season, I will look back more extensively on his departure. For now, what matters is the final games of the season in which we all want to bring home the league title.’ 

Ten Hag has a good track record of delivering silverware in Dutch football and took Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019

Ten Hag has a good track record of delivering silverware in Dutch football and took Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019

Ten Hag comes in to replace Ralf Rangnick, who has served as United's interim manager

Ten Hag comes in to replace Ralf Rangnick, who has served as United’s interim manager

United's last permanent manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was sacked back in November

United’s last permanent manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was sacked back in November

Ten Hag fact file 

Born: February 2, 1970 in Haaksbergen, Holland

  • Played as a centre-back for Dutch clubs FC Twente (three spells), De Graafschap, RKC Waalwijk and Utrecht, making 336 league appearances.
  • Won the Dutch second division with De Graafschap in 1990-91 and the Dutch Cup with FC Twente in 2000-01.
  • Moved into management with second-tier Go Ahead Eagles, where Marc Overmars was a shareholder, in 2012, leading them to their first promotion in 17 years during his one and only season there.
  • Coached Bayern Munich’s second team between 2013 and 2015, when Pep Guardiola was manager of the first team.
  • Returned to Utrecht as manager in 2015, leading them to finishes of fifth and fourth in the Eredivisie in his two seasons there.
  • Appointed Ajax head coach in December 2017 following the dismissal of Marcel Keizer.
  • Has won Dutch league and cup doubles with the Amsterdam club in 2018-19 and 2020-21, as well as leading them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. 

United fans have staged protests against the club’s unpopular American owners, the Glazer family, and many believe United will not return to the glory years unless they sell up.

Before Saturday’s 3-2 win over Norwich, a fan group calling itself The 1958 organised a demonstration against the ownership. Fans boycotting the opening 17 minutes of the game – one minute for each year the Glazer family have run the club.  

The crowd chanted ‘we want Glazer out’ and ‘Joel Glazer’s gonna die’ as they waved banner and set off red smoke flares while marching from the Tollgate pub to the stadium ahead of kick-off. 

At least 2,000 stayed outside for the beginning of the match, congregating inside the Munich Tunnel underneath the South Stand and singing ‘love United, stay outside.’

Their anger only grew on Tuesday night when United were thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool at Anfield, just months after losing 5-0 to their bitter rivals at Old Trafford. 

It leaves United’s chances of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League next season looking even more remote. 

But now, a new dawn is emerging. Ten Hag has built a reputation as one of the most innovative coaches in European football since his appointment as Ajax manager in 2017, having previously coached at Utrecht and for Bayern Munich’s second team when Pep Guardiola was in charge in Bavaria.

As well as restoring Ajax to domestic supremacy, Ten Hag also guided them to the Champions League semi-final in 2019, when only a dramatic late goal by Tottenham’s Lucas Moura prevented them reaching a final against Liverpool.

Ten Hag is pictured with the Dutch Cup after his Ajax side defeated Willem II in 2019

Ten Hag is pictured with the Dutch Cup after his Ajax side defeated Willem II in 2019

Ten Hag (fourth from left) celebrates with his squad after Ajax won the Eredivisie in May 2021

Ten Hag (fourth from left) celebrates with his squad after Ajax won the Eredivisie in May 2021

Ten Hag’s good record in the transfer market with Ajax is another encouraging factor for United.

Despite the exit of stars such as Hakim Ziyech, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong following their Champions League success, Ten Hag was able to successfully maintain Ajax as a force in Dutch football with shrewd signings. 

Mitchell van der Gaag, the former Motherwell centre half, is Ten Hag’s No 2 at Ajax and is set to follow his boss to Old Trafford. 

Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Yves Bissouma and Jurrien Timber lead Erik ten Hag’s list of transfer targets as Man United prepare for a summer clear out… but their budget could be as little as £20m if they miss out on Champions League 

BY CHRIS WHEELER 

After agreeing to become the new Manchester United boss, Erik ten Hag will need to oversee an overhaul of the squad when he begins work in the summer. 

Up to 10 players are expected to leave Old Trafford including striker Edinson Cavani, midfielder Paul Pogba and goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

It will leave plenty of scope for the Dutchman, but failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League could reduce their targets and budget.

Sportsmail’s CHRIS WHEELER takes a look at the potential transfer options.  

INS

Manchester United will be linked with their usual raft of transfer targets this summer and want to strengthen the spine of the team with a new centre back, central midfielder and striker.

With a replacement needed for Edinson Cavani — and possibly Cristiano Ronaldo — it is thought United could make a move for Tottenham’s Harry Kane or Darwin Nunez of Benfica.

Manchester United could move for striker Harry Kane

Jurrien Timber is also a defensive target

Manchester United could move for striker Harry Kane (L) and defender Jurrien Timber (R)

The midfield options are believed to include Declan Rice (West Ham), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Yves Bissouma (Brighton), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) and Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco). 

In defence, United are said to have discussed Antonio Rudiger, who is available on a free from Chelsea, and Jurrien Timber (Ajax). 

But with agents being told by United that failing to qualify for the Champions League could slash the club’s budget to as low as £20m, many of those targets could be out of reach for new manager Ten Hag. 

OUTS

There will be an overhaul of the United squad this summer with the number of players leaving Old Trafford possibly hitting double figures.

Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Lee Grant are set to move on as free agents and Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones could follow.

Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek will return from loan spells at Sevilla and Everton respectively.

Edinson Cavani is set to move on as a free agent this summer

Paul Pogba is also likely to depart on a free

Edinson Cavani (L) and Paul Pogba (R) are set to move on as free agents this summer

Van de Beek hopes to revive his United career under his old Ajax boss Ten Hag but Martial is still intent on leaving.  

The big question mark is Cristiano Ronaldo, who has endured a frustrating season despite scoring 18 goals.

The Portugal star is known to feel there will be no quick fix for United’s problems as he weighs up whether to stay for the second and final year of his contract. 

However, finding another top club willing to pay his £500,000-a-week wages would be difficult. 

Erik ten Hag’s five-point plan to TRANSFORM Manchester United: Manage the big egos, fix the toxic dressing room, overhaul a failing squad to harness its potential… and get the team RUNNING!

BY CHRIS WHEELER

Erik ten Hag knows he is about to swap domination in Holland with Ajax for an altogether less stable environment at Manchester United. 

In many ways, Ajax are the polar opposite of the modern-day Manchester United: a well-run club with a defined structure, clear identity and a winning team.

Sportsmail looks at the challenges facing Ten Hag as he prepares to become the fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to try to restore United to their former glory. 

Manage the big egos

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arm-around-the-shoulder approach ultimately didn’t work, and Ralf Rangnick has been undermined from the start by his interim role.

Previously, United had two powerful figureheads in Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal, and there is already concern among United staff over another Dutch manager, such is the legacy of Van Gaal’s authoritarian regime.

Big egos will be a challenge for the Dutchman after working with a largely young squad at Ajax

Big egos will be a challenge for the Dutchman after working with a largely young squad at Ajax 

Ten Hag is a skilled tactician who is known more for his attention to detail than his man-management capabilities.

But this is a club crying out for strong leadership and a clear ethos on and off the field under a manager who has the full backing of his employers to get it right.

A major rebuilding job is required at Old Trafford and it will be fascinating to see how Ten Hag handles the big personalities who remain next season given that he has worked with a largely young squad at Ajax.

Former Tottenham star Rafael van der Vaart has no doubt that his compatriot will crack the whip, saying: ‘These players can’t have any excuses any more. They made so many managers leave while they are playing so badly.

‘Now they get a manager who will be very clear and will present his plan. Those who won’t co-operate will get thrown out.’

However, one dressing-room source at Ajax told Sportsmail on Wednesday that Ten Hag’s decision to keep playing Daley Blind is proof that he can be swayed by status.

‘There’s been criticism of him for playing Blind just because of the surname, so we’re curious to see how he handles Cristiano Ronaldo and Co,’ said the insider. 

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Ten Hag will need more running, more sprints and more sweat from the star-studded squad

Fix the toxic dressing room

The atmosphere among United’s squad has bordered on toxic at times this season and Ten Hag must restore harmony.

A number of players are desperate to leave, having grown disillusioned sitting on the sidelines, and many should get their wish this summer.

Regardless of who United bring in or let go, Ten Hag must create a more positive dressing-room environment to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction. 

Overhaul failing squad

Like his predecessors, Ten Hag will have a say in recruitment and a veto over any player he doesn’t want.

It is vital that United bring in the right new signings as part of a long overdue overhaul of their squad.

The Ajax system Ten Hag will leave behind is admired the world over as an example of how to build a club. 

United are a club in disarray and need a fresh start with a manager that is allowed to rebuild

United are a club in disarray and need a fresh start with a manager that is allowed to rebuild

United’s squad, on the other hand, is a Frankenstein’s monster put together by five different managers which lacks any clear identity.

Players have been hoarded and kept on lucrative contracts that make it difficult to get rid of them, resulting in a bloated squad and a club in stagnation.

United need to get rid of the dead wood and rebuild, and Ten Hag will play a key part in that process in conjunction with football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher. 

Harness potential

The 52-year-old built a reputation for nurturing a vibrant young side at Ajax, and United are hoping he can have a similar effect at Old Trafford.

Like Pep Guardiola — whom he worked with at Bayern Munich — Ten Hag has an ability to improve players and that hasn’t happened nearly enough at United in recent years. 

Ten Hag will be asked to improve players like Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Ten Hag will be asked to improve players like Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Marcus Rashford is a prime example of a player struggling to realise his potential, and Harry Maguire, Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are the latest new signings to make big-money moves and then go backwards. 

United have never worked out how to get the best from Paul Pogba.

Jadon Sancho has recovered after a poor start, Fred is winning over his critics and Anthony Elanga has been a rare success for United this season, but too many of their team-mates are playing within themselves.  

Get the team running

Ten Hag’s high-pressing, attack-minded game is similar to Pep Guardiola’s but requires a tremendous work-rate from his players.

Rangnick tried it but the tactic ran out of steam before half-time of his first game against Crystal Palace, and he bemoaned a lack of aggression in last weekend’s defeat at Everton.

Ten Hag needs more running, more sprints and more sweat from United if they are going to have any chance of closing the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool.



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