Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has risen to the top of the pile as Manchester United try to agree on a new permanent manager and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has already offered his thoughts
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Manchester United’s search for a new manager seems to have brought them back to Erik ten Hag after previous links with the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and more recently to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
However, Ten Hag’s name was a constant, even when his Ajax team was surprisingly eliminated from the Champions League in the hands of Benfica. Speculation has increased on the future of the former Utrecht coach following the addition of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to the Ajax staff, while he too grinned when asked if he was studying English.
Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp has previously talked about United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnickwho is set to move to a consultant role to help the new manager with embedding. And the Liverpool manager has also given his verdict on Ten Hag, with talk of a move to Old Trafford gathering momentum.
According to the Manchester evening news, Ten Hag remains United’s main contender for the role. However, neither Pochettino nor Tuchel were excluded.
The Dutchman guided Ajax to the semi-finals in 2018/19 Champions League, and they were tipped to go far again this season after winning all six of their group games. However, after a draw against Benfica in Portugal, the Amsterdamers lost 1-0 at home in the second leg.
Liverpool faced Ten Hag’s side in the Champions League last season, notching narrow wins home and away in the group stage. And it was during that run that Klopp offered his thoughts on the 52-year-old.
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“Erik is rightly regarded as one of the most exciting coaching talents in world football right now because of his work with Ajax,” Klopp said in December 2020. “Obviously it’s a wonderful club – one of the pre-eminent names in European football – but at this moment it’s clear that they run the organization brilliantly and Erik is a big part of it.
“They have had to adjust in recent seasons after losing some players to opposing clubs. I remember from my own experience in Dortmund how that feels and what a challenge it is.
“The way they deal with it is extraordinary. The foundation of the team remains solid and they have recruited well. They have a clear identity. I have to say I love watching them.”
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After their 2018-19 run, Ajax lost some of their young stars. Matthijs de Ligt joined juventus for the big bucks while Frenkie de Jong joined Barcelona That same summer and the following year, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek joined the First League.
Ten Hag was forced to rebuild his squad, with Sebastien Haller scoring for fun after his arrival west ham United in January 2021. Antony has also impressed since moving from Sao Paulo, while academy talents like Jurrien Timber and Noussair Mazraoui have risen.
Ajax won the 2020/21 Eredivisie by a margin of 16 points and are on course to repeat the feat. After 26 games they are at the top of the table with 77 goals scored and only 11 goals conceded.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/jurgen-klopp-man-utd-manager-26509492 Jurgen Klopp has made his feelings clear on Man Utd's preferred managerial candidate