It was never much of a secret, but Manchester United have finally confirmed Erik ten Hag will become their next permanent manager after he emerged as their preferred choice following a comprehensive search.
Throughout the process, United sources reiterated they were keeping their options open in regards to the next appointment, though in reality it was always a matter of Ten Hag or Mauricio Pochettino, the only two viable candidates for the role. No matter who United chose, there was always going to be an element of risk. Now, the key is for United to get behind their new man and ensure he has the best possible chance of success when he officially takes the reins at the end of the season.
But while the 52-year-old’s role won’t begin until the summer, he still has some initial work to do as the club looks to get everything in place so he can hit the ground running as soon as he arrives.
READ MORE: Why Manchester United chose Erik ten Hag as their next manager
Getting Ten Hag’s appointment wrapped up early was crucial for United to ensure they had a clear sales pitch ahead of the summer transfer window. With the Dutchman now confirmed in the role, it is much easier to sell a vision to any prospective arrivals and much easier to convince others about why they would be right to remain at the club.
One such beneficiary of his arrival is that of compatriot Donny van de Beek, who could have a rejuvenated role under the manager who elevated him to stardom with his prominent role in Ajax’s journey to the Champions League semi-finals back in 2019.
Van de Beek’s struggles at Old Trafford have been well-documented since he left Amsterdam for Manchester nearly two years ago. And, although he has continued to struggle since joining Everton on loan back in January, there is a belief he will be given a new lease of life under his former mentor.
That theory is fueled in itself by comments Ten Hag made last December, when he criticized both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick for their limited usage of the Netherlands international. The Ajax boss told by Volkskrant: “Donny, I find that hard. [It’s a] deadly without. If you haven’t had a chance yet, then development will also stall. Every now and then you encourage them.”
After such a public backing of Van de Beek, the expectation will be fully on the manager to give him a fair chance next season, and with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic both set to leave the club for free upon the expiration of their contracts, it seems certain he will get just that.
“He is an absolute key player for us, a very modern midfielder with lots of depth in his play. It’s clear that we will miss him a lot once he’s gone,” Ten Hag said of Van de Beek’s departure when he finally left in September 2020.
Rangnick admitted United could need as many as 10 new additions at the end of the season, though actually being able to implement such a change seems fanciful and completely unrealistic. Instead, the club might need to look at internal solutions to their problems, and it certainly bodes well for the out-of-favor Dutchman.
United acknowledge that signing a new midfielder is their biggest priority in the summer window, but with Pogba also leaving, there is a clear need for at least two new arrivals. However, given the need to strengthen elsewhere, United might have to settle for just one new midfield addition, with Van de Beek and youngster James Garner both capable of supplementing the options available to Ten Hag.
After an underwhelming spell with Everton, there is still no guarantee Van de Beek will ever have what it takes to make it at United, though a meeting with his mentor can surely only do him well.
Ten Hag’s arrival certainly has all the makings of a fruitful future for his former Ajax midfield metronome, though it will all be down to the player to hit the right notes.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.