Pep Guardiola believes Erik ten Hag could be the right manager to eventually succeed him at Manchester City but insists there are no guarantees the Dutchman would be a success in the Premier League if he joins Manchester United.
The Ajax manager is on United’s shortlist to take over at Old Trafford next season and said on Friday when asked whether he could leave this summer: “You never know.”
Guardiola worked with Ten Hag at Bayern Munich for two seasons when he was in charge of the German club’s second team and described him as “an incredible person”, adding that “his Ajax teams are a joy to watch”.
But City’s manager, asked whether Ten Hag would be assured of translating his success in the Netherlands to English football, said: “If I was 100% I would call Manchester United and tell them: ‘Guys, you have to take him.’ But nobody knows. When I arrived here I didn’t know. He’s a good manager, there is no doubt. But there were good managers there in the past since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left. You cannot say that David Moyes is not a good manager or Louis van Gaal or José Mourinho. I think all the managers that have been at United have been excellent.”
Guardiola is in his sixth year at City and has a deal until the end of next season. He has said he may decide in the summer whether to sign an extension but endorsed Ten Hag as a strong candidate to take over when he steps away.
“Could Erik ten Hag be here at City? Definitely. I think he could be the one,” Guardiola said. “For the way he approaches the game.” He joked: “I will say to [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] now.”
Ten Hag said on Friday that he could not rule out leaving Amsterdam this summer. “My focus is currently only on Ajax,” he said. “But in football you never know.”
Asked to confirm or deny speaking to United, Ten Hag said: “Everyone knows each other in the industry. There are always talks with representatives from other clubs – that’s normal.”
Guardiola revealed that City would be without Rúben Dias for their Premier League game at home to Liverpool next Sunday as the defender continues to recover from a hamstring injury but John Stones is fit to face Burnley on Saturday after returning home early from England duty.
“We will not risk him,” Guardiola said of Dias. “The most important thing is I will not ask a player to play when he is not ready.”