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Erik ten Hag: Manchester United appoint Ajax coach as next manager

Manchester United have appointed Ajax coach Erik ten Hag as their next manager.

The Dutchman, 52, will take over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick at the end of this season on a three-year deal which can be extended by a year.

Rangnick, who replaced the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, is set to move into a consultancy role.

Ten Hag will become United’s fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

“It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead,” said Ten Hag.

“I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.”

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United are sixth in the Premier League with five games remaining this season, three points behind Tottenham, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot.

Ajax are top of the Dutch Eredivisie – four points clear of PSV Eindhoven – with five matches left, although they lost to their rivals in the Dutch Cup final.

Ten Hag, who took over as Ajax head coach since December 2017, led them to the league and cup double in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

They reached the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League and were within a minute of making the final, only to be denied by a remarkable Tottenham comeback.

United’s choice had narrowed to Ten Hag and Paris St-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino, after Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui had also been spoken to about the role.

Ten Hag is expected to bring in a former United coach or player as part of his backroom team, given it is unlikely the remaining link to the Solskjaer era, Mike Phelan, will remain at the club.

Ten Hag joined Ajax after two and a half years at Utrecht, having previously coached Bayern Munich’s second team, where he worked with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

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Solskjaer was sacked following a 4-1 defeat at Watford that left United seventh in the table.

Since Rangnick officially took charge on 3 December, United have a record of nine wins, six draws and four defeats in 19 league games.

They were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 by Atletico Madrid and lost to Championship side Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round.

After Tuesday’s 4-0 league defeat by Liverpool, Rangnick said United might need as many as 10 new players this summer.

Ten Hag wants ex-England coach and Ferguson’s former assistant Steve McClaren to work with him.

McClaren worked with Ten Hag at FC Twente and it is understood Ten Hag feels he can provide invaluable insight into the workings of United and English football in general.

On Wednesday it was announced that chief scout Jim Lawlor and head of global scouting Marcel Bout had United.

United won 38 trophies during Ferguson’s 26-year reign at Old Trafford, including 13 league titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups and four League Cups.

However, since his departure United have won only the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal, the League Cup, Europa League and Community Shield under Jose Mourinho, and the Charity Shield under David Moyes.

Moyes, originally earmarked as Ferguson’s long-term successor and given a six-year contract, was sacked in his first season in charge.

Man Utd since Ferguson
ManagerDatesGamesWin%
David MoyesJul 2013 – Apr 20145153%
Louis van GaalMay 2014 – May 201610352%
Jose MourinhoMay 2016 – Dec 201814458%
Ole Gunnar SolskjaerDec 2018 – Nov 202116854%
*Permanent managers only

‘A proven winner’ – analysis

Ten Hag was the unanimous choice of senior figures at Old Trafford after what is being said was a rigorous recruitment process, led by football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher, with new chief executive Richard Arnold engaged for the final stages.

The belief at United is that Ten Hag was the candidate most closely aligned to the club’s identity and strategy.

Ten Hag is viewed as being a proven winner who likes to play an attractive, attacking style of football, with a commitment to youth.

It is felt he improves players and develops teams, and within the negotiation process he set out his long-term vision to build a successful team.