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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Erik ten Hag admits being warned off ‘impossible’ Man Utd job –

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has revealed that he was warned off accepting the Old Trafford job by people predicting it would be “impossible” for him to succeed.

Appointed in May 2022, Ten Hag was the fifth permanent manager to take the reins in what had then been nine years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired after three times as long as that in charge.

In the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal in late 2021, interim boss Ralf Rangnick had bluntly suggested that “open heart surgery” was needed for United to return to former glories.

“Everyone was telling me ‘You can’t succeed in that job’. They said it was impossible. Me? I wanted the challenge,” Ten Hag told famed fanzine United We Stand.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it was such a great club with such a great fanbase. People love Man Utd, or they are against Man Utd. I like clubs like this. Ajax was like this.”


Erik ten Hag has come under fire this season / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages


Ten Hag, who took Ajax to within a kick of the 2019 Champions League final and had previously managed Bayern Munich II at the same time Pep Guardiola was in charge of the first-team, enjoyed relative success in his debut season in Manchester. Despite a challenging start, United returned to the Premier League top four and broke a six-year trophy drought.

But his second year has proven more difficult. United have already lost ten games out of 22 played in all competitions – no manager since Fergie has reached ten defeats as quickly in a given season, while the team’s Champions League status hangs by a thread after one win from five matches.

Even so, United are still competitive in the Premier League. Victory over Chelsea on Wednesday night was a fifth in the last seven league games and Ten Hag’s side, for having lost six times in the competition, are still only three points off the top four and nine back from the leaders.

The Dutchman was forced to deny reports of disunity in the squad and has passionately defended his position. 90min understands that Ten Hag also currently has the full backing of United’s hierarchy and incoming minority investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with those in power focused on installing stability and altering the club’s approach to transfer dealings.

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