“[Erik ten Hag] has done well for us for years, while Manchester United has done poorly for years.” When asked about rumors linking his current Ajax manager to the Old Trafford position, Davy Klaassen stated, “I don’t think so.”
The former Everton midfielder also wanted to stress that his manager had a contract with Ajax until 2023, and that a departure was far from certain. This comes after Pep Guardiola complimented Ten Hag earlier this week and mentioned him as a possible successor at the Etihad Stadium next summer.
“An fantastic person, and human being,” Guardiola remarked of Ten Hag. I was taken aback by how humble and wonderful he was (he was at Bayern Munich). Just look at his Ajax team in recent years to see the traits he possesses. In many, many ways, it’s a joy to see.”
It’s a true indication of the times for United to have a player with no ties to the club make such candid remarks about the situation at Old Trafford. But maybe more alarming is the fact that Klaasen is almost certainly correct.
“It shouldn’t be the situation that you go to the manager of Ajax and say we want you and he’s debating whether or not to come, he should be crawling over shattered glass to get to United,” Darren Lewis of the Mirror stated on Sky Sports earlier this week. That isn’t always the case.
United, on the other hand, is doing things the right way. They’ve allowed themselves enough time to complete a comprehensive interview process in order to choose their future manager, while Ralf Rangnick continues to lead the team for the rest of the season.
Ten Hag is the leader, closely followed by Mauricio Pochettino, but why should a manager presently regarded as one of Europe’s most promising, with the option of picking his future job, come to United? It’s far from clear that United will revert to their former glory unless the manager receives assurances that things will change.
According to Louis van Gaal, who repeated Klaassen’s comments in his own interview just a few weeks ago, the club did not focus on the footballing component as much as it should have under Ed Woodward. Many United fans have questioned whether the club has the structure in place for any manager to thrive, and Ten Hag is likely to have the same concerns now that his job is on the line.
The appointment of John Murtough and Darren Fletcher is a positive step forward, and Ralf Rangnick will hopefully be able to oversee the project in his consulting capacity, whatever that role entails. But you can’t blame Ten Hag for having misgivings about the role or even rejecting it if he doesn’t believe he’ll get the backing he needs.
The same can be said for every manager, even Pochettino, who is appointed. The club’s shattered image is visible to everyone, from fans to players both inside and outside the club – including possible future managers – and it needs to alter quickly.