The important details surrounding Erik ten Hag to Manchester United

After weeks and months of speculation surrounding the Manchester United permanent manager job, it looks like the United hierarchy have finally arrived at a decision – senior figures at United are now said to be in agreement that Erik ten Hag is the man they want to be leading the club next. We will dive into a number of relevant details here, including their apparent reasons for this choice and how they plan to approach things further with him.

Reasons for the choice

Mauricio Pochettino has been admired by the United hierarchy, or by parts of it anyway, for a long time now – and he was very much Ten Hag’s main competition for the job all said and done, despite United stressing on a shortlist and the presence of other candidates in the reckoning.

A few days before a formal interview was held, Samuel Luckhurst of the MEN reported that Ten Hag had become United’s preferred managerial target to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjรฆr. The Dutchman had his formal interview with United towards the end of March – and it was said to be a positive one, as per Dharmesh Sheth of Sky Sports, with the club apparently impressed by the vision and philosophy he outlined.

Despite this, the club’s official stance was that this is but the beginning of a long process and there was some time to go before a decision would be made, as other interviews would be held in days to come. Jonathan Northcroft of Times Sport also went on to mention that United wanted their next manager to imbue the club with a strong playing identity – something which figured prominently in plans Ten Hag outlined, giving him an advantage in the race.

As the month of April kicked in, the very reliable Mike Verweij also reported that Erik ten Hag had now become United’s top target, and that it would take a release clause of around โ‚ฌ2m to be triggered for United to buy him out of his contract at Ajax, which would have had a year left on it come the summer. At almost the same time, this was reported by Simon Mullock of Mirror Sport as well, followed by a number of other reliable sources. A few days later, we had the reliable Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic confirm that Ten Hag was indeed the candidate pulling in most support in terms of an appointment, and that negotiations with him were advanced.

When Marcel van der Kraan mentioned the fact that negotiations between Manchester United and Ten Hag were down to the final stages of the contract while speaking to Sky Sports News yesterday, you would probably not blame someone for not taking it at face value, despite his reliability. A few hours later though, Rob Dawson and Mark Ogden of ESPN broke the news that United had indeed settled on Ten Hag as their next permanent managerial appointment, and that they would go forward and put him in charge for next season. The same was then reported by a number of reliable journalists and outlets.

The process of an appointment was seemed to be initiated and worked on by football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher – who communicated a decision to Richard Arnold with Joel Glazer having the final call. As per the same ESPN report mentioned earlier, Arnold and Glazer were said to be in agreement that Ten Hag was the best man for the job. This view was echoed by Simon Stone of BBC Sport, who also went on to mention that one of the reasons behind Ten Hag being a preferred choice was that there was a feeling within United that he would be a better fit in their footballing structure which involved the likes of Murtough, Fletcher and Ralf Rangnick as advisor.

Jason Burt and James Ducker of Telegraph Sport further went on to mention that, according to sources close to negotiations, no problems were expected in a potential appointment for Ten Hag and that the deal should go through. It was also reported that it’s hoped that an announcement of Ten Hag as permanent manager of Manchester United would be made towards the end of the next week.

Background staff talk

Given the size of the job at hand, surrounding himself with the right support network is something Ten Hag needs to get spot on. Jason Burt and James Ducker of Telegraph Sport reported towards the end of March that he would like to bring his assistant at Ajax, Mitchell van der Gaag, with him to United if he got the job.

Stretty News, on the other hand, mentioned that United would like to bring in an ex-United player with links to the club as a part of Ten Hag’s backroom staff to help him settle in and unite the squad – they also mentioned former United striker Robin van Persie as a potential candidate for the role, something which was then later confirmed by Simon Mullock of Mirror Sport who’s been extremely reliable throughout this saga. Although, the line from Mullock was that Ten Hag had himself sounded out Van Persie to ask him to return to United with him as a part of his backroom staff, if appointed.

Paul Hirst of Times Sport also went on to mention that Ten Hag would like to bring a Dutch coach with past links to United to the club with him, if given a chance to. The reliable Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan also mentioned on Sky Sports that Ten Hag had been sounding out a few people in Dutch football with a background at United, in terms of whether they would be ready to accompany him there as a part of his backroom staff.

Rob Dawson and Mark Ogden of the ESPN mentioned that Rene Meulensteen is one of the candidates under consideration to become Ten Hag’s assistant. The reliable Jamie Jackson of Guardian Sport, on the other hand, mentioned that former United assistant manager Steve McClaren, who had Ten Hag as his assistant at FC Twente about a decade ago, is another candidate in the running to become Ten Hag’s No.2 at United, in what would be a reversal of roles.

Jamie Jackson then later went on to mention that Ten Hag was confident of being offered the permanent United job because of an agreement between his camp and the club that Steve McClaren would be his No 2 if and when he took over. It was mentioned that McClarenโ€™s experience of United and the Premier League was a key reason why he was being considered as Ten Hagโ€™s potential assistant.

Guarantees wanted by the Dutchman

Paul Hirst of Times Sport reported that Ten Hag would want assurances on the future direction of the club, and a full picture of their future plans before he decides to accept the job at United. He also went on to mention that after his first round of interview, Ten Hag had went on to talk to the owners of the club – the Glazer family.

We also had Marcel van der Kraan mention on Sky Sports that Ten Hag would want two major guarantees from United. Firstly, that he would be allowed to have a backroom staff which would fit him and United in the best way possible – and that the total structure would help him in changing the philosophy and identity of the club accordingly. The other guarantee was that he would have complete freedom with respect to managing players at hand, in the sense that he would be allowed to have players which would suit the way he’d like to play.

Transfer plans ahead

One of, if not the most important part of it all, right?

The reliable Mike McGrath of Telegraph Sport had reported around a month ago that United would have a rather modest budget of ยฃ50m (net) in the market this summer if they missed out on Champions League Football. In what would be safe to mention a contradiction, the also-reliable James Ducker of Telegraph Sport went on to mention today (Thursday 7th April) that substantial funds would be made available to Ten Hag by United even if they missed out on UCL football.

The report in question by James Ducker further mentioned that in addition to the significant funds at hand, he would be allowed to spend the money brought in via sales on areas of the squad as well. It also mentioned that the fact that there very well could be upto five significant departures of players who would be free agents in the summer, contributing to the wage bill decreasing and providing room for further manoeuvre.

The same report added that insiders at Old Trafford mentioned that they had finalised shortlists of potential targets to be presented to the manager when he takes over. It mentioned that United had prioritized the addition of a striker and two accomplished, high-energy midfielders in the summer. The right-winger position has also been said to be scouted, but a recruit there is mentioned as less of a priority over the other mentioned areas.

Ducker further goes on to mention that Ten Hag would also be given the opportunity to mention targets on his own, in addition to the ones shortlisted. It has been said that the club are braced for that input and understand that he may have some very specific ideas of ins and outs and would want to review the squad closely.

While mentioning about any players Ten Hag would like to being from Ajax to his next club, James Ducker mentioned that he would potentially want to bring the Brazilian winger Antony a stance seconded by Simon Mullock of Mirror Sport. Another player mentioned by Mullock who Ten Hag would like to bring to United would be Ajax centre-back Jurriรซn Timber – which was later confirmed by the reliable Mike Verweij.

Samuel Luckhurst of the MEN reported earlier today that United were working on a deal to sign Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips. It went on to mention that Ten Hag would have a veto on any potential deal, but United were advancing with an intended deal to a particular stage anyway. Teams like Aston Villa and West Ham are interested in the player too but the report states United are confident of fending off interest from them.

A few hours later, the reliable Jonathan Shrager mentioned that as of now, there had been no contact between the two clubs in question over Phillips, nor there has been any direct contact with the player. While that would seem a contradictory line at face value, it hardly necessarily needs to be – it is usually pretty rare that at this stage of the season, there would be direct contact between clubs over a player. It is very plausible that the deal in question is being advanced by United potentially being in contact with the player’s entourage to understand the financial feasibility of a deal – which is usually what United do at this stage before progressing to more serious stages of a negotiation later, if at all.

Another fact coming to light was put forward by the reliable Sami Mokbel and Jack Gaughan of Mail Sport – who went on to mention that Ten Hag was one of the many candidates who raised the issue of recruitment at the club during his interview. The report went on to mention that there is an acceptance at the club that the new boss would require significant backing in the transfer market.

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