Manchester United, on Thursday, announced that current Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag will take over as its manager from the 2022-23 season. The Dutchman has signed a three-year contract with an option to extend for a further year.
Current United manager Ralf Rangnick, however, will continue to be associated with the club as a consultant.
Who is Erik Ten Hag?
Erik Ten Hag started his playing career in the Netherlands as a centre-back and won the KNVB Cup with FC Twente. After retiring from professional football, he joined Go Ahead Eagles, with former Barcelona and Ajax legend Marc Overmars giving him the job.
Under him, the club was promoted to the Premier division for the first time in 17 years after which he moved to Germany as the manager of Bayern Munich II. He met Manchester City and the then Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola during his spell in Germany.
Ten Hag returned to the Netherlands after leaving Bayern and joined Ajax in 2017 after two years at Utrecht. At Ajax, Ten Hag won his first managerial trophy in the form of the KNVB Cup — completing a full circle from winning it as a player and winning it again as a manager.
In 2019, Ajax almost emulated its 1995 Champions League run to the final under Ten Hag, beating European giants Juventus and Real Madrid, but lost to Tottenham Hotspur on the away goal rule in the semis.
In January 2022, he became the fastest manager in the history of Eredivise to reach 100 wins.
In his four-and-a-half years at the club, Ten Hag has led Ajax to five trophies — the Dutch Championship and the Dutch Cup twice each and the Dutch Super Cup once.
In the Champions League 2021-22 season, his Ajax side became one of the only ten sides to remain unbeaten in the group stages.
What does Ten Hag bring to the table?
Erik Ten Hag plays with a typical 4-3-3 formation with an airplane-like counter-attack on the break — something that was evident in Ajax’s win against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
His style of play at Man United will get the side back to a formation it has played under two former managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho. While Mourinho focused on scoring and resorting to a defensive disposition thereon, the Dutchman usually walks in the opposite direction.
Under his managership Ajax reached the 500 goals scored mark in 185 games, the fastest in the club’s history, and till now has scored 580 goals in 210 matches. His Ajax side has scored five or more goals in 37 matches.
The Dutchman also has a proven record of building youngsters and out-of-form players into superstars.
Matthijs De Ligt, Frenkie De Jong and Donny van de Beek are some of the players that have flourished under him, while Manchester United outcast Daley Blind and out-of-form Sebastian Haller have weaved magic in Holland under Ten Hag.
The move will be a ray of hope for Van de Beek as well, who has struggled to find form since his move to United and had to leave on loan after Rangnick’s move to Old Trafford.