Man Utd’s 8-man shortlist before deciding on Erik ten Hag as next manager

Manchester United complete the deal that will see Ajax boss Erik ten Hag become the club’s newest permanent manager, with the Dutchman set to take up his role on July 1

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Erik ten Hag in profile as Man Utd ‘open talks’ with Ajax boss

Manchester United hope they are spot on in their search for a new manager – for the fifth time.

Erik ten Hag becomes the latest name to attempt to emulate the exploits of Sir Alex Ferguson and the mistakes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer done it all. The Ajax head coach this week agreed to become the Red Devils’ new boss, with an official announcement expected by the end of the month.

And reports have now leaked the other seven names in line for the job and the rivals who have been ruled out along the way, either by the club or the manager himself. The 52-year-old’s arrival marks a long and arduous process that began in November last year. It was then that Solskjaer was finally relieved of his duties after a humiliating 4-1 defeat Watford.

United had hoped to name a permanent successor in the weeks following Solskjaer’s sacking ESPN report about it at the time Brendan Rodgers and Maurice Pochettino were the favorites to replace him. However, it was ultimately decided to use Ralf Rangnick as the ‘band-aid’ who was hired to oversee the team for the remainder of the season.

Recent results may not have proved the smartest of ideas in hindsight and United looked doomed to miss out on a top four finish and a place next season Champions League. But what Rangnick has allowed Old Trafford bosses to conduct is what they see as a thorough and orderly search, rather than the rushed process being conducted by Ed Woodward.

His departure in January is said to have added additional clarity to the search, with Richard Arnold tasking director of football John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher with confirming a new manager before the end of the season.

Erik ten Hag has won the race to be Man Utd’s next permanent boss

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ESPN suggest that by the turn of the year Rodgers’ indifferent season with leicester City had seen him drop out of the race and while Bayern Munich was manager Julian Nagelsman had admirers, it was quickly accepted that their hopes of acquiring him were unlikely. Thomas Tuchel then a name swam in the middle Chelsea ‘s uncertain future following the sanctions imposed on Blues owner Roman Abramovich.

But much like Nagelsmann, it was made clear that any potential new buyer would consider Tuchel an integral part of their plans for the future and was seen as one of the key assets at Stamford Bridge.

Zinedine Zidane was also an interesting option for Old Trafford bosses, who were keen to bring in someone experienced in winning big competitions with big clubs. Few have a resume in that regard that rivals the Frenchman, with whom he has won two La Liga and four Champions Leagues real Madrid.

Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino were reportedly the first frontrunners

But the Frenchman left Madrid at the very peak of his powers and is ready to await the perfect opportunity for his return, with Paris Saint-Germain being the only club job set to appeal to him at this point.

That left the last four of Pochettino, Ten Hag, Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui. However, it is claimed that the longlist of four very quickly became a shortlist consisting of just Ten Hag and Pochettino.

The report adds that the Winter World Cup “ruled” their chances of landing Enrique, who is adamant he will not leave Spain just months before the big kick-off in Qatar. As for Lopetegui, there are said to have been fears that they might hire the “next Unai Emery”.

Zinedine Zidane has admirers at Old Trafford but is holding out for PSG, according to reports


SIPA USA/PA images)

the previous arsenal Coach has been the talk of the town in Europe this week after guiding Europa League winners Villarreal into the Champions League semi-finals at Bayern’s expense. But his perceived failures in north London and at PSG weighed against Lopetegui, whose greatest successes have come from the biggest teams in the game.

And when it came to the latter two, Murtough’s long relationship with Ten Hag, whom he has known since his Utrecht days, helped allay any concerns that United represent by far the greatest challenge of his managerial career to date. As for Pochettino, it is claimed that United felt PSG would play tough in the negotiations and that even if they agreed on a compensation package, Real Madrid could step in and bring him in the 11th hour.

United feel they have landed a rising star in Ten Hag who can build a young and exciting team like he did at Ajax. It remains to be seen whether Murtough’s first big call will prove to be the Holy Grail or just another Red Devils red herring.

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