Erik ten Hag on ‘three-man shortlist’ alongside Man Utd manager target as Ajax eye surprise return

Jason Soutar
Erik ten Hag celebrates winning the Eredivisie title with his Ajax players
Erik ten Hag celebrates winning the Eredivisie title with his Ajax players

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been linked with a surprise return to Ajax with his future at Old Trafford uncertain.

Ajax have massively struggled since Ten Hag left to join Manchester United at the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

Erik ten Hag to return to Ajax?

The current Red Devils boss was replaced by ex-Club Brugge manager Alfred Schreuder, who lasted six months.

After John Heitinga took charge of the rest of 22/23, Ajax brought in Maurice Steijn as Schreuder’s long-term successor.

Steijn – who found success at Sparta Rotterdam and NAC Breda beforehand – lasted even less time in the Dutch capital, taking charge of 11 matches, winning one in seven in the Eredivisie.

Having been in charge for 114 days, the 50-year-old’s replacement was John van ‘t Schip after Hedwiges Maduro managed and lost two games – including a 2-0 defeat at Brighton in the Europa League – as caretaker manager.

There is no doubt that Van ‘t Schip – who will not be in charge next season – has helped steady the ship, winning 14, drawing nine, and losing six, but Ajax are only fifth in the Eredivisie, six points off a Europa League spot with three games remaining.

Ajax have not finished lower than fourth in the Dutch top flight since the 99/00 campaign and have only finished fourth once since then.

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Ten Hag had a wonderful time for Ajax, managing the Dutch giants between 2017 and 2022, claiming three league titles and two KNVB Cups along the way, while reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019.

The 54-year-old led Manchester United to a third-place finish in the Premier League, an FA Cup final, and glory in the Carabao Cup in his first season in charge at Old Trafford.

After what was deemed a massively successful season for the Red Devils, they have been wildly inconsistent this term and Ten Hag’s job is under serious threat.

United are currently sixth in the Premier League and Champions League qualification looks extremely unlikely. They can, at least, salvage their season by beating Manchester City in the FA Cup final next month.

Winning the cup might not save Ten Hag – who is the favourite to be the next Premier League manager sacked – as we saw with Louis van Gaal back in 2016.

Should he be sacked by new United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Dutchman could make a sensational return to Ajax.

According to De Telegraaf in the Netherlands (via 90min), Ten Hag is on Ajax’s final ‘three-man shortlist’ for the Ajax job.

Also on the list is Graham Potter, who is one of the managers in contention for the Red Devils job, and Nice boss Francesco Farioli, who is eyeing Champions League qualification in France.

Potter has been out of work since being sacked by Chelsea in April 2023 and has been strongly linked with the Eredivisie giants in recent months.

Straight to the comments! Should Manchester United sack Erik ten Hag?

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