Ten Hag ignores Van Gaal’s advice, refuses to rule out move to ‘great club’ Manchester United
Ten Hag – who for some reason is viewed by many as a young, up-and-coming manager despite being a year older than Pep Guardiola, and just nine years younger than Steve Bruce – has reportedly held official talks with United over taking charge of the club at the end of the season.
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Following the discussions, which were understood to be “very positive”, Ten Hag has been installed as the favourite to be the next United boss, ahead of the ‘Spursy’-cursed Mauricio Pochettino.
Van Gaal, however, recently urged his Dutch compatriot to think twice about taking over at United, which he claimed were a “commercial club”.
But those words of warning – along with the high-profile failures of David Moyes, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Van Gaal himself – have evidently fallen on deaf ears, with Ten Hag admitting that he would be open to take on the challenge of the United job.
The 52-year-old, whose only top-flight managerial experience comes in the Dutch Eredivisie, said: “My focus is currently only on Ajax, but in football you never know. I don't want to rule anything out. I'm currently employed here at Ajax to perform.
“I know that everything in football can change from one day to the next. If at some point I should decide to take the next step, I hope that people here will understand.”
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When asked whether he has, indeed, had talks with United, Ten Hag replied coyly: “Everyone knows each other in the industry. There are always talks with representatives from other clubs, that's normal.
“Manchester United is a great club with great fans, but I can only repeat myself: my full focus is completely on Ajax. We are already planning for the new season. I've sat down with Ajax after every season so far. That will also be the case this time.
“I can say that Ajax and Erik ten Hag are very happy with each other at the moment.”
Seemingly backing Ten Hag’s decision to treat Van Gaal’s warning in the same way the Badge Lady treats face masks is United interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
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The German coach hit back at the hypocrisy of Van Gaal for calling United a “commercial club”, as he said: “Louis himself as an experienced coach signed a contract here some years ago and he could have known that in advance if he had that opinion.
“I think football worldwide and even more so in the English Premier League when any rich person or company can buy a club, as long as they pass the fit and proper person test, is a commercialised business that's for sure.
“What I can only tell you from the last four months is that this is a club with a big tradition with a close relationship with the supporters and to the whole city, region and area.
“If the club draws the right conclusions on what's happened in the last couple of years, yes the last couple of years have not been as good as expected, but if they draw the right conclusions, I still see a very bright future for this club.”
United, who are currently sixth in the English Premier League, will take on Leicester City early Sunday morning (SGT).