Manchester United appear to finally be closing in on their new manager after a hunt that arguably began when Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Despite Mauricio Pochettino’s name having been in the ring for years, it seems increasingly likely that the man who will ultimately take the job will be Ajax manager Erik ten Hag.
Since Ferguson bowed out, bringing an end to the glory years of English football’s most successful club, United has burned through seven managers.
Ten Hag is reportedly not completely convinced by the possibility of taking the job with many major issues that need to be addressed within the squad.
But who is ten Hag and what has led him to the position where he could be about to embark on one of the most high-pressure management jobs in football?
Who is Erik ten Hag?
Erik ten Hag is a professional football manager and former player from the east of the Netherlands.
He’s from a rich family and has never needed the financial injection of the big jobs in management having come from a wealthy background.
His family own a real-estate company and several other financial firms.
His father reportedly wanted Erik to go into the family business, but his natural talent as a footballer saw him go down a different path.
He played 336 senior league games, 221of which were for FC Twente, where he retired from in 2002.
In that time he scored 15 league goals, his playing career also including stints at Utrecht, RKC Waalwijk and two other spells at Twente.
What is Erik ten Hag’s managerial history?
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Erik ten Hag has constructed a good managerial record. His first professional job came at the Go Ahead Eagles in 2012, winning 18 out of his 39 games in charge.
From there he took over as Bayern Munich IIs boss in 2013, enjoying a 67% win record across his 72 matches with them in the Regionalliga Bayern, the fourth tier of German football.
Ten Hag then headed over to his former club FC Utrecht, where he won 50% of games. He took the helm for 111 matches between 2015 and 2017 before being snapped up over the Christmas period of 2017 by Ajax.
He has been boss there now for 209 games at the time of writing, commanding a very impressive win ratio of 74% with a plus 399 goal difference.
He’s won the Eredivisie twice, in 2019 and 2021 and is now closing in on a third in 2022. In all, there is a consensus at Ajax that he is delivering the club's best football in years.
During his time with Ajax he has also helped them to the Johan Cruyff Shield in 2019 and the KNVB Cup in 2019 and 2021, having also picked it up as a player with Twente in 2001.
With Ajax he has also guided them on excellent Champions League runs, including missing out to Tottenham in the closing moments of the 2019 semi-final.
Hidden away in his contract is a get-out clause that would mean that United would only need to fork out £1.68 million to prise him away from the Dutch giants.
According to the BBC, ten Hag can make life a little difficult for his players because, similarly to Pep Guardiola, he can be a little obsessive.
He is thought to be hands-on, spending a lot of his time on the training pitch and has a reputation for working to improve players individually and that includes the whole squad, not just the star players.
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