Erik ten Hag responds to Manchester United vacancy questions

Coach Erik Ten Hag of Ajax (Photo by Broer van den Boom/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Coach Erik Ten Hag of Ajax (Photo by Broer van den Boom/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his post on Sunday following a disappointing away loss to 16th-placed Watford, the Manchester United vacancy has been the talk of the town; one man who has been linked for consecutive years is Ajax’s Erik ten Hag.

Many managers have been linked with the Old Trafford job for both, the interim role and the long-term post — but if the manager they acquire now is good enough to stay long term — expect him to get an extended deal as the previous manager received, subsequent to a brilliant start to life as the Manchester United boss.

Erik ten Hag, who has always been rumoured and linked with the English club and some of United’s rivals, made his feelings clear, stating:

"I expect from my players that they are focused on Ajax, so I have to give the right example for that too.My focus is on Ajax, the rest only distracts. I heard nothing about it [Utd job], so I can’t think about it."

Erik ten Hag reason for not being keen

There could be several reasons Erik ten Hag feels now isn’t the right time to jump ship over at the Johan Cruijff ArenA and especially for United. However, for the Dutchman, it can be narrowed down to three specific reasons.

1st reason – Mid-season madness

Hag has made it clear a few times prior to Ole’s sacking that he does not like to take charge of a team midway through a term and prefers to have a preseason under his belt if he was to join a new club.

2nd reason – contract extension

Back in April and while Tottenham were on the hunt for a new boss, Erik ten Hag renewed his deal with the Dutch giants, which now keeps him at the club until 2023. To get him out of his contract would cost money for United, who already had to pay out Solskjaer a compensation fee said to be £7.5million.

3rd and final reason – Ajax are doing well in the Champions League

De Godenzonen are currently leading the pack in the Eredivisie but are equal on points with PSV Eindhoven. But it is not in Holland’s top-flight where the magic is happening. No, it is all taking place over in the Champions League for Erik ten Hag and his Ajax team.

They lead Group C in the European competition and are six points clear of Borussia Dortmund and Sporting CP — meaning, a win for the Flying Dutchmen could see them qualify as the group winners.

Departing now would certainly leave a lot of question marks about what could have been for Erik ten Hag, who came extremely close to going all the way with Ajax back in 2019 when they lost to Spurs in the semi-finals.

Alternative options for Manchester United

If United decide to go the long route and wait until the season ends, Erik Ten Hag is a viable option for the club on every level. But if they want to act now and cut out the middle man (interim manager) then there are options willing to take the mammoth task on at Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has become a hot favourite and what was a long-shot rumour has now picked up speed suddenly; reports suggest the English giants are confident they can land his services sooner than first expected.

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Brendan Rodgers and Zinedine Zidane are the other two names being thrown around, with them also the most unlikely to join the club in the coming weeks or later in life.