Erik ten Hag is on the verge of becoming Man United’s fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement this summer. Ahead of his maiden season in charge, he will have a series of decisions to prepare United for a successful start to his reign.
Man United chief executive Richard Arnold and co-owner Joel Glazer have reportedly agreed that the Ajax boss is the ideal candidate to succeed Ralf Rangnick in the Old Trafford dugout. And while the club have insisted no appointment is imminent, it seems inevitable that he is the next ‘chosen one’.
Ten Hag is set to enter M16 on the back of one of United’s more disastrous seasons since Ferguson departed nine years ago. From Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking to Greenwood’s suspension to the prospect of missing out on Champions League football, it’s no secret that the 52-year-old Dutchman has plenty of work to do.
With that in mind, Express Sport pinpoints Ten Hag’s first four tasks after walking through the Old Trafford entrance in July.
1) Scrap the ‘temporary’ culture
Since Rangnick replaced Solskjaer as interim manager until the end of the season, there has been an uncomfortable sense of uncertainty about where the club and its players will be beyond the summer. With a long-term vision in place, Ten Hag must ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
2) An honest ultimatum
Next season, a handful of current first-team players won’t be at Old Trafford, whilst others simply won’t match Ten Hag’s philosophy. He must present an ultimatum to his inherited squad, including players signed by five different managers before him, where they can either work hard to fit into his system or play their football elsewhere.
3) Sign smarter, not bigger
United have grown accustomed to splashing over the odds on players to try and replicate Manchester City’s spending power – Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba are just a few examples. Ten Hag must lead a new philosophy by targeting less prominent names, as Liverpool have accomplished with the likes of Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane, to match his rebuild strategy.
4) Decide first-choice personnel
It’s been a significant problem for United this term. Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have a clear idea of their preferred 11, more so the latter, and predominantly stick to it. The Red Devils currently don’t have a clear first-choice right-back and left-back, whilst midfield and attacking personnel also often change. During pre-season and through his own recruitment, Ten Hag needs to settle on a team as a foundation and build from there