Many Manchester United fans are excited about the prospects of having current Ajax manager, Erik Ten Hag, take over from Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season. You won’t blame them, they have seen one of the worst years in the club’s history so you can understand their desperation for restoration at Old Trafford.
However, what they fail to realize is that Erik Ten Hag might not be that messiah. It is a bitter truth, but they would have to accept it now or risk having another heartbreak.
Apex Football takes a look at some significant factors that could lead to the 52-year-old’s failure in the red half of Manchester.
The Maguire Situation
Manchester United captain, Harry Maguire, has been under fire in recent times. It has been very difficult to come to the defence of the English defender because he simply cannot defend. Maguire was signed from Leicester City for the huge sum of 78.3 million pounds making him the most expensive defender in the world, but the Englishman’s mistakes have proven too costly for the Red Devils.
If you ask the average Manchester United fan, they would tell you that Maguire should be shipped off to another club but this would be a very difficult task because no club would want to have him on their team because of his expensive wages, and costly mistakes.
Ten Hag will find difficulty managing Maguire in the United team because he won’t be able to bench him, he is the captain of the team, and the top brass did not pay top dollar for him to be on the bench. As such, Ten Hag might be charged with the job of teaching Maguire how to restore his confidence as a good defender, but how long will that take?
The Ronaldo Situation
Erik Ten Hag would be making a jump from managing an Ajax squad that is valued at roughly 236 million pounds to managing a Manchester United squad worth over 800 million pounds. Will he be able to handle the egos in the locker room? Most importantly, will he be able to handle Cristiano Ronaldo?
Cristiano Ronaldo is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He has received 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, the most for a European player. Ronaldo holds the record for most goals and assists in the UEFA Champions League (140 goals, 42 assists). He has scored a record 807 career goals for club and country. It is glaring that Ronaldo’s profile dwarfs any player Ten Hag has ever managed in his career.
When Ronaldo returned to Manchester United last summer, a lot of people thought the Red Devils would win at least one trophy but they have failed to achieve that after two managers. This means the system employed has not been favourable for the Portuguese to fire on all cylinders. He is still their highest goal scorer with 18 goals as opposed to the 36 goals he bagged for Juventus last season.
While Cristiano Ronaldo might seem like a massive weapon for a coach, he could also be a weapon of self-destruction, Solskjaer will approve this message. Ronaldo has not achieved the level of greatness he took to Real Madrid and Juventus in Manchester United. Ten Hag would be charged with the responsibility of making Ronaldo ‘great again’ or so to speak.
The Premier League is levels above the Dutch League
It is a known fact that the English Premier League is one of the biggest football leagues in the world. We can run through a list of managers that excelled in other leagues but found it difficult to make an impact in England. Need I remind you of a certain Luiz Felipe Scolari? A World Cup-winning coach that did not last 9 months in the Premier League.
Then there is the case of Andre Villas-Boas who came from the Portuguese league after being unbeaten throughout his reign in Porto but could not make an impact during his stint at Chelsea and Tottenham. Oh! Just former Chelsea coaches, oops!
The point is, it would be difficult for Ten Hag to waltz through the front doors of the Premier League and begin to rub shoulders with the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. Even the Liverpool manager took a while to understand the league.
The Manchester United Board
At Ajax, Ten Hag had the opportunity to build two solid teams. The board had little input on his decisions on how the team should be. But it would be a different case when he comes to Manchester United. The United board are heavily involved in all the decision making as regards the personnel in the squad.
Manchester United so desperately needed a defensive midfielder last summer but the board did not deliver this to the then manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But the United legend took the fall when the team’s form nosedived. Even with Ed Woodward leaving his role as the executive vice-chairman, it is difficult to see the Manchester United board giving Erik Ten Hag a free hand to do what he likes at the club.
Fergie’s Big Shoes
Let’s face it, Manchester United has not been the same since Sir Alex Ferguson took a bow from the round-leather game. Fergie’s time with Manchester United was arguably the most successful reign in top-flight history.
Sir Alex Ferguson won a massive total of 38 trophies for Manchester United. His shoes are too big for any other manager to fill and the United board have tried to fill those shoes. David Moyes, Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and a host of others have tried but Fergie’s shoes are just too big!
It is now Ten Hag’s turn to try, will he be able to wear those shoes?