Ten Hag to Man Utd: Inside the ‘inside stories’

Date published: Friday 22nd April 2022 6:51 - Will Ford

Reported Man Utd target Erik Ten Hag arriving to a match

He’s been the leading candidate for the last couple of months, with Mauricio Pochettino, Julen Lopetegui and others falling by the wayside. But why did Manchester United plump for Erik ten Hag? What’s the budget? Who’s coming with him?

We’ve gone inside the ‘inside stories’ on the man talkin’ bout a revolution at Old Trafford.


We start with the folks over at The Athletic. Take a breath, there’s a lot to unpack

They report that the United bigwigs – football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and chief executive Richard Arnold – flew over to Amsterdam to hold talks with Ten Hag on March 21, when they were ‘taken aback by Ten Hag’s forthright views’. They don’t appear so happy with Ralf Rangnick’s honesty, but anyway…

They were ‘extremely impressed’ with the lack of ‘sugarcoating’ and came away from ‘multiple direct meetings’ after that initial contact ‘with the impression of him enhanced’.

They had been keen to speak to the Dutch boss since January having ‘factored in underlying metrics and transfer spend’, and despite ‘large dossiers’ being compiled on Pochettino and Lopetegui, both of whom the club met with, Ten Hag was ‘more compelling than others’.

United did also look to tempt Luis Enrique, but having spoken to the Spain boss it became clear that he would not leave the national team before the World Cup in Qatar and the club did not want to extend Ralf Rangnick’s interim spell.

Ten Hag was the ‘standout choice’ by February, when Fletcher and Murtough ‘placed calls to contacts to gain a fuller picture’.

‘One early reservation for some at Old Trafford about Ten Hag centred on his ability to take on a club the scale of United’, with club officials concerned by Donny van de Beek’s struggles in the Premier League, believing the ‘psychological factors’ could be a problem for Ten Hag.

But United were also concerned by Pochettino, firstly because they wondering whether he had ‘already done his career-best work’ and secondly because the dynamics at Paris Saint-Germain, which Pochettino was clearly not enjoying, were perceived to be similar to that at United.

Leading intermediaries believed the job was Pochettino’s to lose in March but were mistaken. PSG did not want to ‘lose face by seeing their manager taken by another club and would dig in for significant compensation’, believed to be as much as £10m.

PSG’s collapse at Real Madrid softened the French side’s resolve to keep Pochettino, but United would still have to pay a significant sum. It’s thought £5m may have been enough. United are said to have not been put off by PSG’s exit from the Champions League – it wasn’t a blot on Poch’s copybook – but reports suggesting he was the players’ first choice were wide of the mark.

The United stars were ‘indifferent’ and while there was a tongue-in-cheek thought ‘that if Pochettino was who the players wanted then United should choose a different option’, the players would not be consulted at any point in the process anyway, with ‘player power’ thought to be a problem. Rangnick’s involvement was also minimal.

The sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich provided a curve ball, with word initially reaching Arnold that Thomas Tuchel would be open to a United pitch, but it soon became clear the Chelsea boss would bide his time and assess the approach of the next owners at Stamford Bridge; United didn’t have time to wait.

Ten Hag it was then, and while Spurs went another way due to a concern over his English-speaking ability, United found him to be ‘charismatic and his communication excellent’.

The final step was for the Glazers to speak to Ten Hag, with Joel and Avram Glazr said to have ‘held a lengthy meeting’ with the Ajax boss. ‘Both parties are thought to have impressed each other’.

Unfortunately for United, news of Ten Hag’s imminent appointment leaked early, souring their relationship with Pochettino, whom United planned to call to inform directly of their decision before the announcement came. Ouch.


The Telegraph look at the backroom staff…

Reprots early on Thursday suggested Ten Hag would not be granted his wish to add Steve McClaren to his backroom staff, but by Thursday evening the Dutch boss had ‘won the battle’ to bring Sir Alex Ferguson’s former stooge to Old Trafford.

The United bosses apparently wanted Ten Hag to consider the coaching staff already at the club before opting for new assistants, presumably to save a bit of cash, but Ten Hag wants McClaren and his current Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag to join him and appears to have made his case successfully.

Ten Hag worked under McClaren at FC Twente and covets his knowledge of the English game and United, with McClaren was part of the treble-winning team of 1999. United now seem to agree.

Robin van Persie has also been linked with a return to the club in some capacity, though it’s claimed he may turn down the offer due to family commitments. And Chelsea legend Winston Bogarde, currently a coach at Ajax, is also a name said to have been put forward by Ten Hag, who has praised his ‘attitude’ and ‘winning mentality’. Well I never.

His team is yet to be complete but moves for McClaren and Van der Gaag are seemingly done and dusted.

Ten Hag McClaren


Over to The Times now and what to do with a £120m budget

The United hierarchy got all upset with Rangnick’s assertion that as many as ten new players may be needed and could arrive this summer, but there is an admission that ‘certain areas of the squad need to be strengthened’. No sh*t.

£120m then, and more if they manage to sell players this summer. ‘Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani are set to leave on free transfers and there are doubts over the long-term futures of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Andreas Pereira’.

Ten Hag has already discussed potential transfers, with Ajax winger Antony, who could be available for £55m, among several targets.

Ajax centre-back Lisandro Martinez and Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, formerly of Ajax, also on his wishlist, according to the report.

Donny van de Beek, who was flying under Ten Hag at Ajax before his move to Old Trafford, will return to the fold after his loan at Everton, but the midfield is still a cause for concern.

United still want Declan Rice, but won’t stretch to the £150m West Ham want, meaning Kalvin Phillips is apparently a very real alternative.

Ten Hag’s ability to improve players was key to his appointment and it’s hoped he will ‘give the club’s underperforming stars a new lease of life’.

It’s thought Ten Hag will build around United’s ‘three world-class players’, Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Varane and David de Gea, while ‘there is hope at United that Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay will shortly be hitting their peak years and, with the right coaching, Jadon Sancho is expected to develop into an outstanding winger’.

‘United also believe that Ten Hag will be able to nurture the raw talents of Anthony Elanga, Hannibal Mejbri and Alejandro Garnacho.’

Ten Hag, like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before him, will have a veto on all potential signings, as will the club’s recruitment department.


But The Mirror claim he will have more pocket money, and four years is fine…

They believe Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Alex Telles and Marcus Rashford will also be up for sale, meaning he will have a £200m transfer kitty.

They also report that despite the club supposedly being very angry with Rangnick’s claim that it will take United six years to catch Liverpool, they’re apparently fine with four years.

It took Sir Alex Ferguson that long, and as we know that is the only comparison that matters.


De Telegraaf (via Mirror) dig into (speculate over) the numbers…

They claim Ten Hag is a RECORD BREAKER, becoming the highest paid Dutch boss in Premier League history. There’s not a great deal of competition.

Essentially, a report claims he will earn more than Louis van Gaal did at the United helm in 2014, meaning his annual wages will exceed £3.3m. That’s nearly £10m over his three-year contract, though he has the option of a further year.


The Sun put that into context…

He would bloody hope to earn more than £3.3m as that would make him the fifth lowest earner in the Premier League, above just Thomas Frank (£1.5m), Dean Smith (£2m), Graham Potter (£2.5m) and Bruno Lage (£3m).

They report that Ten Hag will in fact earn £9m, which would put him behind Pep Guardiola (£19m), Jurgen Klopp (£16m), Antonio Conte (£15m) and Brendan Rodgers (£10m). That’s a bit more like it.


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