Erik ten Hag’s camp are concerned Manchester United have issues with his lack of experience managing at the highest level, according to reports. The 52-year-old is currently the frontrunner when it comes to replacing Ralf Rangnick at the end of the campaign, despite the Red Devils also sitting down for talks with the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Luis Enrique. However, there remains a chance he won’t take over at Old Trafford despite being the clear favorite to be given the role.
Manchester United thought they were on course to restore the glory days of the Sir Alex Ferguson era when they gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a three-year contract back in the summer.
However, despite being backed with Galactico signings such as Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Norwegian lost his job in November after a dismal run of form.
Rangnick has since then steadied the ship but Ten Hag is now widely expected to take over from the German at the end of the campaign, having done well at Ajax during his five years in the Dutch capital.
However, while discussions with the 52-year-old supposedly went well, the Telegraph say there is ‘concern’ among Ten Hag’s camp that the club have ‘issues’ over the experience he has of being in charge of a big side.
Though the Dutchman has done well at Ajax, he’s only ever been a head coach in his homeland – having previously managed the likes of Utrecht and Go Ahead Eagles.
He formerly worked in Germany with Bayern Munich but only as an assistant, where he served Pep Guardiola during the Spaniard’s spell at the Allianz Arena.
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Ten Hag, it’s also stated, has only ever worked in a ‘particular environment’ where he has the support of a sporting director.
United, for their part, are still looking to finalize the structure of their department – with the likes of John Murtough, Darren Fletcher and Richard Arnold all involved in the decision-making to various degrees.
The Red Devils are supposedly concerned about Ten Hag’s lack of experience.
However, they seem ready to roll the dice anyway having seen big and established names such as Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho hired and fired in recent years.
Ten Hag is, though, still in a fight with other managers when it comes to taking charge over at Old Trafford.
Pochettino has been discussed and remains popular among the Red Devils hierarchy, with interest in the Paris Saint-Germain boss dating back to his time at Southampton.
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With PSG’s season failing to meet expectations, especially in the wake of their recent Champions League exit to Real Madrid, it’s feasible he’ll be on the market come the end of the campaign.
Enrique has also been talked about but the Spain boss has made it abundantly clear he wants to lead his nation at the World Cup in Qatar, which is due to take place later in the year.
United have also been credited with an interest in Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui though, given his past struggles at Real Madrid, he seems an outside candidate for the role.
And Roberto Mancini has also appeared on their shortlist in some places, yet his previous work at fierce rivals Manchester City may count against him.
One person with knowledge of Ten Hag, and Dutch football, is former United assistant Steve McClaren.
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Ten Hag worked as the 60-year-old’s assistant at FC Twente earlier in his career and McClaren thinks his attention to detail, and fanaticism about football, makes him an ideal candidate for the United job.
“I said to Erik, ‘Have you got our first day organized?’ Over the next two hours he talked me through six weeks of pre-season work, ”he said, looking back at their time together.
“Every last detail was accounted for. Every document ready. Every drinks break planned. He would say, ‘There is 20 minutes here for you to do your specific session and then we do this’.
“I had never seen anything like it before or since. For both individuals and for the team the work was the best I had seen.
“The detail was logged even down to what the coaches would be wearing on each day, and that we would all come out together. He had planned what equipment had to be carried out and when it had to be brought back in.
“I would occasionally say to Erik during a session, ‘We just need that goal moving to the halfway line’, and he would ask every player in the squad to do it. All 22 players. Everyone goes.
“That’s the way he likes it. His great strength di lui lies not just in his attention to detail and organization.
“He has a clear philosophy of how he wants to play football; the environment he wants to create.
“The player progression program was a key part of Twente. He has done that at Ajax too, for each player from the academy to the first team.
“You look at Hakim Ziyech and now Antony, a very good player who will be the next one to go.”