Erik ten Hag has the chance to gain an early Manchester United advantage – Tyrone Marshall



Erik ten Hag could have enjoyed his Ajax farewell tour this week. Having secured a third Eredivisie title he could have partied with his squad as they head to Curacao, fulfilling a commercial commitment that also sounds an awful lot like a celebratory party.

Instead, Ten Hag will pass on the attraction of the Caribbean island and focus on his work with United. As of last night, there were no immediate plans for him to travel to Manchester, but it could make sense to do so.

The Dutchman hasn’t ‘officially’ started working with United yet, but he has been involved in significant discussions on plans for the summer and for next season.

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After four-and-a-half years at Ajax, Ten Hag has earned the opportunity to take a break, but the workaholic coach wants to get a head start on the task at United instead.

“It’s time to turn the switch now,” he said following Ajax’s final game. “It’s something that is needed because there is a lot to take care of and I have the energy for it.”

The switch isn’t being turned off, rather it’s being moved from Ajax to United. Having held a meeting with football director John Murtough the day after winning the league title, he’s now stepping up plans for pre-season and his first campaign in charge.

This week certainly represents a real opportunity for Ten Hag to get ahead at United. Had the Dutch domestic season finished next weekend then he would probably have headed off on holiday, but the fact it’s wrapped up a week earlier than the Premier League has worked in his favour.

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It allows the 52-year-old to switch his focus and get a week of planning in the bag, with staff on the ground in Manchester to assist with that.

There would certainly be benefits to Ten Hag coming to Manchester as well, meeting with interim manager Ralf Rangnick, Murtough and others. It would make sense to start the process of meeting his players this week too. Maybe the motivation of having someone to impress will raise performance levels at Selhurst Park next week.

For now United insist Rangnick and his squad are focused on the final game of a dreadful campaign, but Ten Hag’s presence is unlikely to be seen as a distraction.

If United’s season had finished on the same weekend as Ajax’s then none of this would have been possible. But the timing has worked well for United and Ten Hag has shown an admirable commitment to the cause.

If that had been the case he would have been turning up at the start of pre-season and still been in the getting-to-know-you phase with his squad.

Now he has the opportunity this week to get a clearer idea of ​​where futures lie, putting faith and trust in some players who will have a more enjoyable summer for their first encounter with Ten Hag. For others, there might be the realization that this is the end of the road for them at Old Trafford.

It’s inescapable that recruitment is going to be the most significant aspect of United’s summer. It has to be a successful transfer window if Ten Hag is to make any kind of substantial progress in his first season at the club.

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But breaking the ice with his squad this week could be vital too. It could save time come the start of July when the squad returns for pre-season training having already met their new manager.

This week could yet prove to be a key in the story of United’s 2022/23 season.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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