Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has risen to the top of the pile as Manchester United look to settle on a new permanent manager, and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has already given his thoughts
Manchester United’s search for a new manager appears to have led them back to Erik ten Hag, after earlier links with the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and, more recently, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.
Ten Hag’s name has been a constant, though, even as his Ajax side suffered a surprise Champions League elimination at the hands of Benfica. Speculation has increased over the future of the former Utrecht boss after the addition of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to Ajax’s staff, while he also smirked when asked whether he was learning English.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has previously spoken about United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who is due to move into a consultancy role to help the new manager bed in. And the Liverpool manager has also given his verdict on Ten Hag, with talk of a move to Old Trafford gaining traction.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Ten Hag remains United’s prime candidate for the role. However, neither Pochettino nor Tuchel has been ruled out.
The Dutchman led Ajax to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League, and they had been tipped to go far again this season after winning all six of their group games. However, after drawing with Benfica in Portugal, the Amsterdam side lost 1-0 at home in their second leg.
Liverpool faced off with Ten Hag’s team in last season’s Champions League, scoring narrow home and away wins in the group stage. And it was during that run when Klopp gave his thoughts on the 52-year-old.
Is Erik ten Hag the best fit for Man Utd? Have your say in the comments section
AFP via Getty Images)
“Erik is rightly regarded as one of the most exciting coaching talents in world football at the moment because of the work he does with Ajax,” Klopp in December 2020. “Of course, it is a wonderful club – one of the stellar names of European football – but in this moment it is clear they have outstanding leadership of the organisation and Erik is a big part of that.
“They have had to adapt in recent seasons after losing a few players to rival clubs. I remember from my own experience at Dortmund how that feels and what a challenge it is.
“How they deal with it is exceptional. The foundations of the team remain solid and they have recruited well. They have a clear identity. I love watching them, I have to say.”
MAURICE VAN STEEN/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
After their 2018-19 run, Ajax lost a number of their young stars. Matthijs de Ligt moved to Juventus for big money, while Frenkie de Jong joined Barcelona that same summer and the following year saw Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek move to the Premier League.
Ten Hag has been forced to rebuild his squad, with Sebastien Haller scoring for fun after arriving from West Ham United in January 2021. Antony has also impressed since joining from Sao Paulo, while academy talents including Jurrien Timber and Noussair Mazraoui have stepped up.
Ajax won the Eredivisie in 2020-21 by a 16-point margin, and are on track to repeat the feat. After 26 games, they sit atop the table with 77 goals scored and just 11 conceded.