What Man Utd have said as Ajax boss Erik ten Hag ‘clear favourite’ for job after interview

Ralf Rangnick discusses coaches moral obligations when taking jobs

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Manchester United are still considering other candidates as their next manager, after reports emerged that Erik ten Hag held his first formal interview with the club with a view to taking the job. The Dutchman has been backed as the favourite to replace Ralf Rangnick when his short-term stint as interim coach ends in May.

Rangnick is expected to move upstairs and take a consultancy role to help the running of the club. And the German’s preference to appoint Ajax coach Ten Hag could be key in helping him land the job.

The 52-year-old has won two Eredivisie titles since taking over in 2017 and is on course to secure a third domestic success with Ajax two points clear at the top. Memorably, he took Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19 before an agonising defeat to Tottenham.

Man United are searching for a manager to take the club forward in the long-term, with a project under Rangnick and football director John Murtough mapped out. Mauricio Pochettino has also been targeted as a potential candidate for the job.

But according to The Daily Mail, Ten Hag has become the first to conduct an interview with Man United since Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher began the process of finding a permanent boss, following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.

News of his apparent interest in the job is likely to stoke some excitement amongst the club’s fanbase, given Ten Hag’s successful track record and preference for attacking football. However, United have insisted that there is a long way to go in their process and, as it stands, there is no clear frontrunner for the job at this point.

Along with Pochettino, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique are among the other names on the shortlist. Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel had emerged as a shock target due to the Blues’ current financial situation, but the German has committed himself to seeing out his contract.

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The decision to interview Ten Hag comes less than a year after Tottenham reportedly invited the Dutch manager to interview as Jose Mourinho’s potential successor. On that occasion, Ten Hag failed to impress the Spurs hierarchy his final interview after demonstrating only an adequate grasp of English.

But Ten Hag laughed off concerns over his ability to communicate after reports had incorrectly suggested he was taking advanced English lessons to improve his command of the language. “No, that’s not true!” he told BT Sport, in perfect English. “We talk English in the club because we have a lot of foreign players in Holland you get educated in English.

While Pochettino had emerged as the initial favourite due to the Red Devils’ long-standing interest, PSG’s demand for a £10m compensation package when Spurs registered their interest may have put them off, especially when considering Ten Hag’s availability.

It is understood he had an agreement in place with Ajax’s sporting director Marc Overmars that would allow him to leave if a suitable compensation fee was agreed. Overmars has since left the club but CEO Edwin van der Sar will honour his wish if he decides to leave, which could prove the difference in helping United decide.

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