Erik ten Hag has been named Manchester United’s new permanent manager after months of speculation. The Dutch manager has agreed to a three-year deal with the option of a fourth year, and will take over at the end of the season.
Ten Hag faces a monumental assignment if he is to get this United team in shape and ready to play his style of football in time for the new season. The first test of his United tenure will be against Liverpool in pre-season.
The friendly will be played on July 12th in Thailand, and while not much will be expected of Ten Hag’s side in a pre-season game against one of Europe’s greatest clubs, United fans will be hopeful that he can improve on the team’s 4-0 and 5-0 losses this season.
Ten Hag will have a personal stake in the outcome of the match. It will not only be his first game as United’s manager, but it will also be his first match against the team he should have faced in the final that never was.
Ajax had a fantastic season in 2018/19, reaching the Champions League semi-finals. They were 3-0 ahead over Tottenham Hotspur on aggregate and set to meet Liverpool in the final, but then calamity struck.
Spurs advanced on away goals thanks to Lucas Moura’s hat-trick in the second half, leaving Ajax pondering what may have been. The fact that Liverpool thrashed Spurs in the final was viewed as a disappointing end to the campaign, as many expected Ten Hag’s side to put up a better fight.
Ten Hag has met Liverpool twice since taking over as Ajax manager in 2017, but both times he has lost 1-0. United’s first preseason game could be the ideal occasion for him to show Jurgen Klopp that he has what it takes to beat him.
It’s unclear whether United will be ready to compete with Liverpool in their preseason match, or even if that match would serve as a solid predictor of things to come. However, it will be the first opportunity for fans to witness how Ten Hag implements his style of play in this United squad, as well as which players he will rely on for the forthcoming season.