Erik ten Hag’s to-do list: Can he bring Man Utd back their glory days?

World football’s worst kept secret has finally been confirmed – Erik ten Hag has become the new permanent manager of Manchester United. Ten Hag, currently head coach of Ajax, will replace interim boss Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season. The 52-year-old Dutchman has signed a three-year contract until June 2025, which can be extended by another year.

In a statement published on Thursday United director of football John Murtough said Ten Hag had “proven to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe” over the past four years at Ajax and was known for “his side’s attractive, attacking football and commitment to the Youth”.

Ten Hag said it was a “huge honor” to be appointed as United manager and he was “very excited” about the challenge ahead. “I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans and I am determined to build a team capable of achieving the success it deserves,” he added. “It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years and I can assure our fans of my full commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I join Manchester United.”

Former Fame

The club may have given the impression that there were four candidates in the running for its 12th permanent post-war manager, Samuel Luckhurst said in the Manchester evening news. However, it was “always between two”: Ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino. “Ultimately, United have decided that Ten Hag is the manager who best fits the club’s identity and strategy.”

Sixth in the Premier League, three points adrift of the top four and at risk of missing out on qualification for next season’s Uefa Champions League, this current United side has been described the “worst in 30 years”. The Red Devils have approached Ten Hag to try and “restore the club to its former glory,” Chris Wheeler said in the Daily Mail. He will double his salary and earn nearly £30million through his contract.

“Relenting Upward Coaching Curve”

Ten Hag’s ‘path from altar boy’ in his native Holland to manager of United is the ‘culmination of a career that has been carefully thought out and executed,’ said Phil Blanche in the Irish Independent. His appointment “may seem quick considering he hasn’t made it into the top five leagues in European football” but he has been on a “relentless upward curve” over the past two decades.

A former player for Dutch clubs FC Twente, De Graafschap, RKC Waalwijk and FC Utrecht, Ten Hag made his name in the management of Go Ahead Eagles, the second team of Bayern Munich and FC Utrecht. He was appointed Ajax head coach in December 2017 and guided the Amsterdam club to two Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and the 2018/19 Champions League semi-finals.

He has earned a reputation as “one of the most exciting coaches in Europe” and is “well respected” by his managerial peers, said Nathan Egerton PlanetFootball. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who was Bayern Munich head coach when Ten Hag was in charge of the German club’s second team, said the Dutchman was “just an incredible person and person”. As for his qualities, “you just look at his Ajax team in recent years,” Guardiola added. “To define a manager, you have to observe your team for a long time. This is a team and this manager lets the players play. There is no doubt about that.”

Win trophies and restore pride

United have “pebbled through managers” since 2013, when Alex Ferguson ended his glittering career after 26 years in the managerial post, Alex Conrad said Fox sports. Including interim and caretaker bosses, Ten Hag is the eighth man in the last decade to be in the Old Trafford hot seat. “For a team that hasn’t won a trophy since 2017 after being showered with glory during the Ferguson era, fans are desperate for any form of success,” added Conrad. “Quite simply, it should be the bare minimum for a club of United’s stature.”

Before Ten Hag looks to build a team capable of winning trophies again, he has a “big job to do to get the club back to minimum standards,” Gary Neville said Sky Sports. Because of the scale of the rebuild, former United and England defender Neville believes Ten Hag will not be under the pressure to win trophies for “a year or two”. What needs to be addressed first is “attitude, work ethic, belief, confidence and then hopefully you start thinking about winning trophies”.

“Unprecedented” roster overhaul

There are “a number of challenges” that Ten Hag must overcome, Simon Stone said BBC Sport. “Stepping into a strange world”, Ten Hag has never experienced the “unique demands of English football” and has never coped with anyone with “neither the history nor the ego”. Cristiano Ronaldo. “It’s important that he does it right.”

United’s recruitment is also “an important issue,” Stone added. There is a list of at least ten players who could leave Old Trafford this summer, but “finding the right quality” at United “may not be that easy”.

Neville also believes recruitment is the “main focus” and “most important task” at a football club. “If you get the players wrong, you’re in trouble,” he said on Sky Sports. “There is a great job to be done in many different aspects. The first task is to decide who he wants to keep who is there right now and then he has to decide who he wants to take with him to make sure that confidence, that faith, that spirit can go up in the dressing room.

With some ‘already going for sure’ and others ‘probably going’, Ten Hag has to decide the future of 11 United players, Luckhurst said in the Manchester evening news. The club are preparing for an “unprecedented” squad overhaul. Erik ten Hag’s to-do list: Can he bring Man Utd back their glory days?

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