New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has held meetings with key club staff as the former Ajax coach begins to establish his blueprint to revive the club’s fortunes
Erik ten Hag flew by private jet from Amsterdam to London on Wednesday to meet his Manchester United bosses and begin the process of overhauling the club’s underperforming squad.
Ten Hag and his agents landed in the capital and headed straight to United’s Mayfair offices in London, for meetings with chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough.
The arrival of ten Hag was shrouded in secrecy and the newly-appointed United boss has yet to be pictured in the capital, having been smuggled into a waiting car and driven to the club’s base in the capital for discussions with key staff.
Former Ajax boss ten Hag will spend the next few days in meetings with the United hierarchy, before traveling to Crystal Palace on Sunday to watch the team’s final game of the season. Ten Hag wants to see United play live, to enable him to form an opinion on which players must stay, which must go and the areas of the squad he needs to strengthen ahead of the new season.
The 52-year-old Dutchman is unlikely to meet United’s players before the game at Selhurst Park, but is expected to be introduced to them afterwards, before the squad go their separate ways for the summer. Ten Hag has already revealed a number of United’s players have been in contact with him, via WhatsApp, welcoming him to the club and expressing their excitement at working with him.
It is understood ten Hag has told United’s hierarchy his immediate focus is the spine of the team, with a central defender, central midfielder and striker the priority as far as he is concerned. United are in talks with ten Hag’s former club Ajax over a move for defender Jurrien Timber, while another of his ex-players di lui, Frenkie De Jong – now at Barcelona – is also seen as a viable target.
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Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is a name under consideration, although United are understood to be focusing all their efforts at the moment on defensive and midfield targets, as well as outgoings. Ten Hag officially started work as United boss on Monday, having decided he could waste no time and needed to be ‘hands-on’ with regard to identifying targets and setting bids in place. United’s scouting network has come in for criticism, with chief scouts Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout both having paid the price for perceived failings by leaving their respective roles.
Former United midfielder Quinton Fortune revealed an issue of huge importance pinpointed by Sir Alex Ferguson in recent weeks that Ten Hag must resolve early on in his tenure. Fortune told United’s website: “I was very fortunate to listen to the boss [Sir Alex Ferguson] at Carrington a few weeks ago and he mentioned a simple thing like the team spirit we had when we ate together at the canteen It’s something very simple, that a lot of people miss out on, but that created that bond – not just in the players – but everyone in the staff at Carrington.
“It played an important part of a successful club to create the team spirit, because we have amazing individuals, as you can see, but we’re not always playing as a team. We want players to want to come to Carrington and put on a red jersey. We know the talent is there. The style of football, which I’m sure he’ll implement, needs time and to bring in the right characters, but create a team that is going to play for each other, play for the club and enjoy it. We need players to go out there with a smile on their face and, when you do that, everything else follows. “